I went to college at a university much like Puget Sound, but in a small town far away from any civilized amenities. Not even a Starbucks. As a transfer student I had an apartment off campus, which meant that I was going to have to get a job in order to eat and keep the heat on.

Finding a job was easy, I thought. I’ll just go to the mall and walk out with a job like I did in high school. There was one problem – I didn’t have a car and the mall was 30 miles away. Also, I didn’t know a soul in town, and living off-campus isolated me from potential contacts who might have been able to help.

I tried the conventional route – well, conventional in the late 90’s, before they had cooI resources like LoggerJobs. After calling all the big employers in the phone book, I went to a temporary agency in town and learned that I was a lousy typist (they still used typewriters back then – can you imagine?) – and hit a brick wall. Nothing panned out and the September rent payment was looming.

One day I walked to the grocery store to stock up on ramen noodles, and I admit I was dragging my feet. It’s a good thing I was taking my time because when I paid attention to my surroundings I noticed something – little orange and black signs that said “help-wanted”. Along my short walk, maybe a mile, I spotted three small businesses that were looking for help. After some good (if unfruitful) conversations with those folks, I grew brave and started asking businesses if they were hiring even when they didn’t have a sign. By the time school started I had walked all over the town and got to know every nook and cranny. Finally I found a job at a place I’d never considered before: the local taxi-cab company. They hadn’t been looking for a new driver but they were impressed with my knowledge of the town and gave me a shot.

When you’re looking for a part-time job near campus, keep in mind that many small employers don’t advertise anywhere but their own window – if that. Use a variety of methods to find opportunities – apply to larger organizations, use online tools, but don’t forget that face to face can work, too!

If you’re going to look for opportunities in the neighborhoods surrounding the Puget Sound campus, below are some tips and resources to help you get started:

Tips for approaching employers face to face

  • Bring a resume and/or a document with these details: employment dates and salary history, reasons for leaving, phone numbers of former supervisors – some employers may interview you right on the spot!
  • Prepare a brief introduction that says who you are, a bit about your work background, and your interest in the employer.
  • Send a thank you note after any interviews – handwritten is best.
  • Make sure you have your official documents to verify your eligibility to work in the U.S. – all employers will require you to fill out I-9 and W-4 forms.

Business Directories – use these to identify in advance employers you want to target

Proctor Business Directory – Closest to campus

6th Avenue Business Directory – Lots of variety

Downtown Tacoma Business Directory – A short bus ride away!

The staff in CES is available to help you prepare a resume and brainstorm places to look for part-time employment. To all the new students on campus we wish you a hearty welcome to the neighborhood!

© 2010 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photo: Kris Hay