The University’s work-study programs are a major employer for UNC students. Federal Work-Study is a financial aid program that provides part-time employment to students with demonstrated financial need. The University also offers Carolina Works, an institutional work-study program to employ those who do not qualify for the federal program but still have financial need.
Rachelle Feldman, associate provost and director of UNC’s Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, said in an email that each year between 2,000 and 2,500 students choose to participate in the work-study program. Feldman said that it is estimated that around 1,200 incoming students will be offered to participate in the program this year.
Feldman said while she does not yet know the effect of COVID-19 on the fall term and work-study jobs, she said her office is preparing the work-study program for many possibilities.
“For instance, we are offering supervisors the opportunity to create remote work positions for the first time, which we hope this will expand the number of jobs as well as provide opportunities for students who may be unable to be on campus,” Feldman said.
Many positions on campus and in community service agencies are exclusively open to work-study students, said Feldman. She said work-study positions vary each year, but they can be found in virtually every department and building on campus.
Feldman said students with a work-study award can start searching for a position in late July via the online job system site JobX that is only accessible to work-study students. Students will be able to begin working in early August before the fall semester begins.
She said students are encouraged to find positions that will help them in their professional growth and development.
“The program is also structured to help students develop professionally, ensure that students work reasonable hours and that supervisors are trained to accommodate the unique challenges student-employees experience,” Feldman said.
Anjeline Lynch, a rising junior work-study student who has worked as a registration services assistant for two years at the Registrar’s Office, said she has enjoyed her job and acquired better time management and social and professional skills.
“I really like the people that I work with, and it's not to say that the work is easy, but it's manageable and it's something that I know I can do and something that I know I can do well, so I think it's a pretty good fit for me,” Lynch said.
Benefits of part-time work
Lowe said there are many benefits to students having a part-time job during college, such as earning money to supplement living costs, building your resume with professional experience and making a network of contacts.
“The soft skills that you learn in the part-time jobs, even though you don't think it is extremely relevant to your major, are extremely critical to employers — communication, leadership, time management, problem solving,” Lowe said.
Allison Ruvidich, who graduated from UNC this spring and will be attending graduate school for a master’s degree in Library Science at UNC in the fall, worked as a student assistant at UNC's Music Library her junior and senior years. She said the job was more than a paycheck for her, as it was directly connected to her career goal.
“I knew very clearly that the work I was doing there was going to help me down the line,” Ruvidich said.
Despite the untraditional fall semester ahead, Lowe said she is still very hopeful that students will be able to find part-time work, but that it may take longer than usual and require looking in different places and using different tools.