Faculty / Staff Resources Student Resources
University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
X/Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube

9 to 5? Working in Grad School


February 10, 2020
by Noelle

Life Hacks Living in LA School/Life Balance

X/Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

Whether you are looking to earn a little spending money or pay next month’s rent, having a part-time job in grad school is definitely a possibility and reality for students here at Chan. On top of managing their coursework, I know babysitters, bartenders, and tutors, people who teach tennis lessons, pick up ride-sharers on their daily commute, and run their own businesses (check out Kevin’s side hustle if you haven’t already). Amazing right?!

As for me, I was a waitress during my first year and now work as a student ambassador. I remember applying for the waitressing job back in September 2018, nervous about having never held a tray in my life before, but more so, unsure of how I was going to maintain both a job and school. My only prior work experience was a low key student worker position that fit nicely into my flexible undergrad schedule, so I felt way in over my head just a couple weeks into grad school.

I was hired and started right as my first level one fieldwork began (great timing I know 😬). It was definitely a challenge at first to find a reasonable schedule and really, to learn how to be a waitress from scratch. But once I started getting into the groove (stopped spilling drinks and forgetting orders), it got way easier and dare I say fun? I worked on the school nights before fieldwork (because no homework was due the next day), weekends, and picked up extra shifts if it was a slower week at school. It was helpful that the restaurant was close to home/shuttle stop and my employers were pretty flexible about my schedule.

Waiting tables

Taken on my last day of work . . . doing my best not to spill!

And I LOVED it. It was a great fit for my personality, gave me a little break from my student identity, and provided a whole different education and skill set. Second to my Level II fieldwork, it is my most prized bullet point on my résumé. It wasn’t all peaches and cream though. There were lots of late nights, crammed weekends, missed events, and several moments I had to remind myself that school was the priority. But I am so glad to have done it . . . and not just for the tips!

Of course, working during grad school looks very different from person to person. And my experience is just one example of how to make it work.

For this week’s song rec, let’s throw it back to 1973 with “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays, a song I would frequently blast on my way home after a long day at the restaurant.