How to land the perfect federal work-study job this fall

These five tips and tricks will help students prepare for work-study

How to land the perfect federal work-study job this fall

Did you receive a federal work-study offer as part of your financial aid package? You’re not alone. With the school year starting, many AU students will hit the ground -- or online job listings -- running, looking for positions to fulfill their federal work-study (FWS) award. FWS offers a maximum total award of $1,800 a year, with students working on average eight to ten hours per week, according to AU’s FWS page. At AU, students have the opportunity to work at a variety of on- and off-campus locations. After you’ve accepted your FWS award, here are five things you should know to land the perfect gig.

1. Read the Fine Print

FWS jobs are required by law to pay the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25, but AU positions pay the D.C. minimum wage, which is currently $10.50 an hour, according to the University’s FWS guidelines. Students should also make sure to review their financial aid packages to determine the amount of FWS hours they are able to complete each week.

There’s more: students completing their FWS should also be aware that their income is subject to state and federal income tax if earnings exceed $950 per year, according to AU’s Student Jobs site. FWS jobs pay biweekly on Fridays, and students can be paid through direct deposit to a checking, savings or EagleBucks account of their choice. Time sheets are electronically recorded by students through the AU portal, under “Work @ AU” and “Payroll” where the link to My Time Sheets is included. If a student is under the age of 18, they will also need to obtain a D.C. work permit through the Human Resources Department.

2. Apply, Apply, Apply!

Job postings for FWS positions are available on the AU student jobs website, and are now available, according to Student Career Coordinator Jared Heino.

“Students who don’t find employment during this time frame are encouraged to attend a ‘Finding Part-time Employment’ workshop, which is co-sponsored by the Career Center and AU’s Office of Human Resources and offered several times throughout the year,” Heino said.

Students will need to complete a basic information profile on the site which is saved, and then any additional questions or surveys for a specific position.

*Note: Not all positions listed on the student jobs site qualify for FWS, so be sure to apply for those that are listed as applicable to FWS. Students can apply for multiple FWS positions as well, but can only hold one per semester, per the AU FWS guidelines.

Heino also suggests that students attend the FWS job fair on Sept. 7 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in MGC 2-5. On-campus and off-campus partners will attend, so students can explore all possibilities and check the status of their applications.

3. Make the Most of Your Time

As most classes for this fall semester are being finalized, students should determine their availability during the week and how their work-study hours will fit in. Students will need to balance their time between school and work, according to rising sophomore and FWS participant Ashlee Smith.

“My best advice would be to schedule studying, research and homework around your work [and] class schedule because you will not want to write a paper on the day you have four classes and a 4-hour FWS shift,” Smith said. She earned her FWS award last year working at the Davenport Lounge.

There are numerous benefits to working on-campus, including earning money to help pay for expenses and gaining experience with professional skills that employers are looking for, according to Ganiat Harris, Director of Human Resources Service Delivery.

“On-campus supervisors tend to have a good understanding of the student workload and academic cycle and are usually willing to work around these needs when developing a work schedule,” Harris said in an email. “And last, it’s a short commute.”

4. Discover a New Experience

While students may want to work in familiar academic departments at AU, branching out by applying to off-campus opportunities offers a chance to meet new faces and gain professional skills in a real-world setting. Working in a totally different environment apart from AU can help students get a sense of what kind of jobs they may want to pursue, and is a great way to build connections in the greater D.C. area, according to Heino. If students choose to stay on campus, FWS is an opportunity to foster relationships and create a new routine coming into college.

“I loved being integrated into a sense of community and learning more about the local products we carry,” rising junior Sharon Kim, who also worked at the Dav this past year, said. “Learning a new skill was cool [and] I had always been a fan of coffee... I also learned a little bit more about the operations, limitations, and challenges a business [faces] especially with it being non-profit and student-run with an alum as our general manager.”

There are a variety of off-campus jobs that are available to AU students each semester through three programs, the Public Work Study Program, D.C. Reads, and Jumpstart.

“Each of these programs is community-based and striving toward the betterment of the DC community,” Heino said.

5. Set Yourself Apart From the Pack

Heino suggests that students should also make an appointment with a career advisor to discuss interview strategies. Career Center advisors serve those attending SOC, CAS, SIS and SPA, and the Kogod Center for Career Development serves students in Kogod. Heino also recommends that students meet with a career peer advisor, which are fellow students with training in the process of basic job searching. These students are available to help on a drop-in basis at KCCD or the Career Center.

Another resource is Interview Stream, available through the AU CareerWeb portal. This platform uses recorded actors to pose interview questions to students, which they can answer and play back for critiquing.

“Students can then play back interview recordings to gauge the strength of their answers, see if they have any distracting habits, and get a better sense of practicing for the interview,” Heino said. “Students can also share the interview recordings with a career advisor, friend or family member for additional feedback.”

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