Friday, August 4, 2017

Jobs, Budgeting, and Student Discounts - The Student Side

Because we live under capitalism, money/finances is an important thing to consider throughout college, especially when living in NYC, the greatest and one of the most expensive cities in the world.


So what are the jobs available on and off campus? Is it reasonable to get an internship during the semester? How do I budget my time and money to make sure I’m not working too much and shirking my academic responsibilities? Are there student discounts for things? What about textbooks are they all $5,000???

First things first. Your priority at Barnard should be academics as much as possible. If you feel like your schoolwork is slipping through the cracks because of the hours you’re putting in to to pay for food, laundry, etc. get in contact with your adviser, class dean, and maybe even FLIP, Columbia’s First-Generation/Low Income Partnership, if appropriate.


On-Campus Jobs
Working a job on campus is a great option if you’re considering working through the school year. There’s jobs available across many departments and offices including doing research for an adviser or professor, working as a light/sound operator in the theatre, working in the Barnard Store, or in the LeFrak Center (working with some of the coolest people, the Barnard librarians, on campus imo).
You can also work as a BSAR (Barnard Student Admissions Representative), Speaking Fellow, Writing Fellow, Barnard babysitter, Barnard bartender, or even just work at a desk on campus such as the information desk in the Diana, the gym, or the Barnard store. Student Employment is a great place to start if you're looking for an on-campus job.

If a Barnard College Job Award was included in your financial aid package, those funds can only be used for an on-campus job. (To learn more about Barnard College Jobs and Federal Work Study, check out our previous blog post.) If you are not working for a Barnard College Job you can also look for job options at Columbia, doing research or working at an information desk in a library or student center.

There are also resources available on campus to help you find a job, whether that job be on- or off-campus, during the year or in the summer. The Career Development Office is an amazing free resource with people who are excited to help you in any way they can -- whether that be reading/editing your resume, helping you write a cover letter, finding internships, giving you the email address of a Barnard alum in your prospective field, interview prep, and you can even borrow a suit from them if you have an interview coming up. The Career Development Office also maintains NACElink, Barnard’s online job posting site. Here you can find jobs both on- and off-campus, and even across the country, in a fields and all positions.

If you’re working on campus, Barnard will pay you bi-weekly. You can either receive your paycheck via direct deposit or they’ll leave a check in your mailbox for you to pick up. (Paige and Rowan both still have their checks left in their mailbox because setting up direct deposit seems like a lot of work)

Availability for an off-campus job depends on you and what other responsibilities and activities you want to be immersed in. For example, taking an off-campus job will most likely require a commute, meaning you might not get back to campus in time for club meetings or rehearsals if that’s something you’re interested in, and an additional cost to factor into your budget. Some students may know about an internship or off-campus job before the semester and intentionally plan their class schedule around it. For instance, taking only Mon/Wed classes so that they can work Tues/Thurs. This is obviously only possible if you are aware of your work schedule before registration and if your course plans are somewhat flexible.

Off-campus jobs are also posted on NACElink, but feel free to look around at different websites and companies you’re interested working for. A ton of companies are based in New York City, so there are many jobs and internships available for students.

Speaking of internships, check out Career Development’s page on internships and learn all about paid vs unpaid internships, receiving credit for internships, and funding available for internships.

Budgeting Tips
Budgets are important and you should stick to them. That way when you get your bank statement at the end of the month you’re not shocked to see you spent $50 at Insomnia Cookies in one month (@Paige).

But budgeting is up there with like taxes and changing oil in a car: you know you should do them and you have kind of a vague idea of how it works, but it’s still not really clear. Try downloading Mint on your phone; it’s a great app which connects to your bank account and helps you keep to your budget and remove any extra charges -- like that subscription to Candy Club that you swore you were only going to get for the cheap first month and then cancel (@Rowan).

Some people like to avoid using debit and credit cards and stick with cash. It can be a lot easier to not spend money when you use physical bills vs a swipe of a card. However, more and more places are going debit/credit card only (I’m looking at you, Sweetgreen). Some, however, find that having an abundance of cash makes them more likely to spend it because it won’t appear on their credit card bill. Figure out what works best for you and try and find a system where you, or an app, or a friend, will hold you accountable.

When you find a system that works best for you, set yourself a budget. Some people like to set a maximum amount of money they’d like to spend in a given time period, and some people set budgets for specific categories, for example, a budget of only $10 for Insomnia Cookies a month (@Paige).

Student Discounts
One of the perks of being a college student is all the student discounts you can get with your student ID card and .edu email address.

Your Barnard ID card can get you into museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library, the American Folk Art Museum, and a ton of other museums for free. For a full list of museums and galleries, check out Columbia’s Passport to Museums.

You can also receive discounted movie and Broadway tickets from the Barnard Store. If you’re interested in Broadway musicals/plays, you can also get discounted tickets at TKTS, with a location conveniently located in Times Square.

If you sign up for UniDays, you can receive discounts on everything from Asos to Apple Music to 1-800-Contacts. Many stores like Madewell and J. Crew also give student discounts when you present your student ID in store.

If you have a new laptop or your old Microsoft Office subscription is about to expire, you can get Microsoft Office 365 for free as a college student. You can download it for either Mac and PC and have all the Microsoft Office programs and 1TB of OneDrive storage.

For a lot of students, textbooks can be one of their greatest expenses.

Textbooks for many STEM and language classes can sometimes go over $200 for one book. Keep in mind, however, that a lot of time that one book will get you through many levels of that subject if you plan to continue with it, so next semester you might not have to buy any. There are a lot of ways to find books/textbooks for cheaper. For instance, Barnard Buy/Sell/Trade often has an abundance of upperclassmen selling books from courses they’ve already completed (especially FYS/FYW classes) and no longer need. It's a closed group so you need permission from someone in it to join. You can also bring used books to Book Culture on 112th b/w Broadway and Amsterdam for store credit which you can use to buy NEW books.

For many humanities classes you can buy the required books on Amazon used sometimes for as low as $0.99 (plus shipping). Keep in mind, though, that these are almost always not prime so LOOK AT THE EXPECTED DELIVERY DATE because if it is schedule to get there after the class discussion it will be of very little help to you. A lot of textbooks on Amazon are also available as e-books that you can download to the Kindle app on any device. If you don’t mind reading from a screen, e-books are another great option.

Before you start the semester, be sure to sit down with your parents/guardians and find out what they are willing to pay and not pay for. Some may be willing/able to chip in for textbooks, toiletries, etc. and some may not. It’s always better to have these conversations ahead of time rather than realizing in the middle of the line at Duane Reade that you don’t have enough money in your bank account for shampoo and laundry detergent and having to pick which is the real necessity.

Keep in mind that not every student and family comes from the same financial background, so you may have opportunities/resources that other students do not. Be respectful and conscious of your position before asking friends to meals, shows, or other expensive outings. Not everyone has the security of access to family funds to fall back on. You may unintentionally put them in the awkward position of having to decline and/or disclose their financial status. Try to make any group outings affordable, checking in to make sure that everyone involved is comfortable and aware of the amount they might have to spend so they don’t sit down at the five star restaurant you picked and either have to eat very little for dinner or get slammed with a bill they simply cannot afford. If you want to have dinner with some friends and are able, offer to buy the groceries. That way you can all get together and cook as a group activity and everyone can feel like they’re chipping in and spending time together without straining their budget for that month. Plus, cooking with friends can lead to some wonderful teaching/quote-worthy moments.

If you are a low-income student or are trying to be less dependent on your parents for finances, don't feel pressured to do anything you can't afford, even if your friends/peers do make assumptions. You'll have the platinum meal plan with points and all the aforementioned free/discounted admissions -- there's so much to do on and off campus without breaking the bank so don't feel bad saying no. Also, keep in mind that your financial situation is YOUR choice to share or not. If you can't do something because of financial reasons it's okay to say why or okay to not disclose and just say that you can't make it. If it starts to become a pattern with close friends it may be worth sitting down and having a conversation with them, but that is ultimately your call to make.

Lastly! Remember: it's okay if you don't have a super fancy job or internship your first year. You have plenty of time and just being a student at this school and being involved in all it has to offer is already a big accomplishment! Be honest with yourself about what you can and can't handle and keep in mind that you have many semesters ahead of you -- it doesn't all have to be done during the first one or two.