Top 10: best and worst student jobs

Many university students have to work. We take a look at their options.

Jaime Sugiyama and Brandon Tolliver both say that working at the King's campus book store is a great job. (Photo: Bianca Müller)

The topic of jobs is always on students' minds. Here are some of the best and worst. This list is built out of the experiences we've shared with students over the years and throughout the provinces. Stories about these jobs can be heard in classrooms, dorms and cafeterias across Canada. The student job is, in many ways, the stuff of legends.

The Best:

Teacher's Assistant or Research Assistant

They're not always paid well for the amount of work they do but getting practical experience in the field, networking, and cultivating future references can be an invaluable stepping stone to bigger things after university.

Con: You feel like you live at school.

Waiting on tables/Bartending

Competition is intense for bartending and table waiting jobs, especially in student-saturated towns.  Why? Tips.  It's hard work but this is one of the only jobs where it's socially frowned-upon to let you go home without the extra cash.

Con: Your employer is passing the buck to customers to pay your wages.


The best way to learn is by doing it. If you can actually manage to find paid work in your field during university you've hit the jackpot. Freelancing builds your reputation and portfolio while you gain skills and experience. This is a great option for any student of graphic design, media arts, or journalism.

Con: If you deliver bad work, word gets around.

Yoga/Fitness Instructor

If you're going to work out, you might as well get paid for it. Having to lead classes also makes you less inclined to put off exercising. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps students balance stress stress, and a bit of community involvement will help you stay connected.

Con: As the instructor, you can't really zone out.


Teaching one-on-one is a great way to practice your own skills, reaffirm knowledge and help others in a meaningful way. You make your own hours, you can meet anywhere you'd like, and - as part instructor, part entrepreneur - it looks great on a resume.

Con: It can be tough to justify taking the time away from your own studying.


The Worst:


The customer is not always right. They're often wrong, and so is your store. But that doesn't mean you should say so. Retail is all about smiling and appearing genuinely enthusiastic about people and products that may not be that interesting. There's a reason why some Europeans say North American customer service feels uncomfortably fake.

Pro: Employee discounts.


Anyone who has worked in telemarketing knows the phoney song and dance of communicating with your supervisor through memos. Phone sales, especially outbound calling, will make your brain cells melt faster than you can cultivate new ones in class - and they will make you dress business casual on top of it.

Pro: Misery loves company.

Food Service

A bad combination of retail, prep work and a lot of cleaning, food service jobs will have you drowning your sorrows in silly inside jokes with co-workers and looking forward to the shining beacon of "after 10 p.m." music. Red flag: you have to shower after work.

Pro: You won't go hungry at work.

Campus Security

Campus security guards get no respect. You have to enforce petty rules without the authority of serious law enforcement training so all the students call you a rent-a-cop. And the uniforms aren't even cool. Night shifts are also boring and because you have to keep an eye out, you can't even catch up on your course readings.

Pro: You get to use walkie-talkies.

Recycling sorter

Picture this: your classmates come in on Sunday afternoon to cash in the deposits on a house party's worth of beer bottles from last night. You have to sort through the dirty remnants of their good time wearing an embarrassing coverall and getting swarmed by hornets.

Pro: You're saving the Earth?



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