How to Get an On-Campus Job as an International Student?

Updated on March 6, 2024

At a Glance

  • On-campus jobs are part-time positions located on university campuses that support the operations of the institution.
  • These jobs can be voluntary or paid, with a limit of 20 hours per week during the semester.
  • International students with F1 visas are generally restricted to on-campus work, except in cases of severe economic hardship.
  • Strategies for securing on-campus jobs include asking senior students, utilizing the career center, networking, volunteering, and knocking on doors.

Every year, thousands of international students come to the United States to do an exchange semester or their studies abroad. Because of the high cost of education, many choose to work on-campus jobs while studying.

Aside from the income, getting an on-campus job at an institute or department you are passionate about can be beneficial for your career when you start your job search.

This guide goes over what on-campus jobs are, the difference between an on-campus and an off-campus job, and how international students can get a job on campus.

Campus Careers in the USA Explained

So first of all, what are on-campus jobs and how can they be differentiated from off-campus jobs?

As the name states an on-campus job, is a job where you actually work on the university campus. These are all jobs that support the operation of the university and can be either voluntary or paid jobs.

All on-campus jobs are part-time jobs and you can work up to 20 hours a week in them. You are only allowed to work more hours during holidays and in those cases, you would be limited to 40 hours a week. However, if you are enrolled in summer classes, the limit will also be 20 hours per week.

All international students are allowed to work on-campus, however, if you have an F1 visa, you are not allowed to work off-campus — this is illegal and you might get into big trouble if you do so!

Only under one circumstance are you allowed to work off-campus and that is if you get an exception or waiver from your university for severe economic hardship. However, without this waiver, it is illegal to work off-campus and we do not recommend that you do it.

Do not feel like this will limit your chances of securing a job while studying abroad — there is plenty of opportunity of getting an on-campus job, especially if you go to a big university.

In the rest of this article, we give you tips and tricks to help explain how you can land an on-campus job at a university in the United States

How to get an On-Campus job?

There are several different ways to get an on-campus job. You can start by asking the seniors who currently work on campus or you can volunteer your way up to a job.

Here are 5 different ways you can land an on-campus job:

  • Ask the seniors
  • Utilize the Career Center
  • Network
  • Volunteer
  • Knock on doors

Each of these strategies is discussed in more detail below.

Ask the Seniors 

As already mentioned above, you can simply ask senior students for possible job opportunities since most of these kinds of jobs are passed on by them.

Utilize the Career Center

Every university in the United States has an on-campus career center. You can either check at the physical career center for job offers or see the opening posted on their website.

Can you get a job here?

Yes, but the problem is that you are going to face a lot of competition because hundreds of students might apply for the same job as you.

However, it never hurts to try and you might be the perfect person for the job someone is looking for. Just go for it! You won’t lose anything putting yourself out there.


If you haven’t done so yet, simply sign up for sports clubs or other student organizations. You will meet new people, find new friends, and establish a network.

The more people you know the better, so ask them where they work and if they know something about openings.


If you haven’t found a job yet, sign up for any volunteering opportunity. US universities always have volunteering opportunities in student offices or in the student union.

In addition, while you volunteer you will get to know people who might be very appreciative of your help and extend a job opportunity to you because of it.

If you talk to them about your financial situation, they might be happy to help you out and help you find a job.

Knock on Doors

If you still don’t have a job yet, this is your last chance of getting one. Print out several resumes and simply knock on the doors of different offices, give them your resume, and ask if they have any open positions for students.

When you do this, you will get a job faster because people will see your initiative and see you being proactive. When you decide to choose the knock-the-door option, make sure of proactiveness at securing a job.

Do not just limit yourself to your educational department when looking for jobs. Check out other schools the university has such as the school of business, arts, music, or sciences.

How to Prepare for an On-Campus Job in the US?

Whether you are in a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. program, the first thing you have to do to get a job in the US is to prepare a one-page resume about yourself.

This resume should include your undergraduate GPA if you have one yet and projects or work you have done during your bachelor’s program.

Apart from that, you should list all of your work experiences, volunteer experiences, and leadership experiences to make yourself stand out.

In order to get an on-campus job, your social involvement and your customer skills are extremely important since you will probably be interacting with and communicating with people constantly in your job.

When writing your resume, keep in mind to keep it short, concise, and to the point. It should never be more than one page and should allow the person to go over your resume quickly. Time is important to Americans and being as short and effective as possible means a lot!

In your resume, you should not include your date of birth, nationality, religion, passport number, home address, or any family-related information. This information is private and defies discrimination laws in the workplace.

What Your Resume Should Include

Below is a list of common items to include with your resume:

  • Name and Contact information
  • Educational Background
  • Achievements
  • Leadership Experiences
  • Customer Service Experiences
  • Technical Skills (Computer Skills, …)
  • Internship Experience
  • Work Experience
  • Project Experience (if you have some)

Include a Cover Letter

We also recommend that you write a cover letter about your past social involvements such as volunteer work, or if you haven’t done any volunteer work, you might state that you were part of a sports team or any other social club. If you have worked with customers before, state all the positive experiences that you had while working.

If you don’t have any experience so far, don’t worry, and just try to get involved now and sign up for social clubs or sports teams that are of interest to you to build your resume.

The cover letter should not only highlight your positive personality traits and how your experience has shaped you into the perfect candidate for the role you want, but it should also focus on how you plan to provide value to the team you will be joining at your new job.

Make sure to talk about how you can help them pursue whatever goals and missions the department or institution on campus has.

What Kind of On-Campus Jobs Do Universities Offer?

Universities offer all kinds of on-campus jobs! You can get a job in a library, a computer lab, different kinds of student offices, the cafeteria, the fitness center, or any other place where you see students working on campus.

There are a variety of campus jobs to choose from, so there is something for just about everyone.

On-campus jobs are paid and you can earn anywhere between 7 to 15 dollars an hour for the work you do. The extra income in your pocket can make a big difference to pay off bills or just have extra money for recreational purposes.

Another positive is that working on campus is legally allowed by US immigration laws, so you won’t be facing any problems when you work on campus.

Moreover, you can get tuition waiver jobs such as Teaching Assistantship (TA), Graduate Assistantship (GA), or Research Assistantship at your university. This means if you get one of these jobs there will be discounts applied to your tuition fee, which is pretty great.

Final Thoughts

We know getting an on-campus job can be frustrating, but if you follow our recommendations you might be closer to achieving your goal.

If you make it known that you want/need a job on campus, people will take notice and help you find something.

We wish you the best of luck in your job hunt!

If you have any experiences or comments about landing an on-campus job as an international student, let us know in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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