A Little Money On the Side: The Benefits (and Drawbacks) To Taking Your Labor Outside Smith

Evelyn Crunden ’13
Features Editor 

The restrictions placed on work-study, the need for extra cash, an opportunity to get off campus — these are only a few of the reasons Smith students frequently explore the possibility of taking a job, and sometimes an internship, off campus in lieu of or in addition to the menial jobs already offered by the college. The perks are clear for some — fewer limitations on hours worked, the chance to make significantly more money, and, in the case of many internships, more than a bit of a resumé boost. Still, the ease of obtaining work like this is questionable, and once hired, other issues come into play, like salary and time commitment. Yet despite these drawbacks, students have managed to find labor outlets all over town and many have benefitted greatly from the experience.

“I work at Dunkin’ Donuts,” shared Adina Pearlman ’15. “I took [the] position on to help pay for school, especially books and spending money.” Pearlman, like many of her peers, feels the difficulties of having a full schedule and a need to pay for both academic necessities as well as other accumulating costs. She’s hardly the only one — from barista work to answering phones, students have been taking on one, two, and sometimes even three jobs in recent years, and the number of students getting jobs seems to be increasing.

The range of occupations is also interesting, especially in a town where coffee shops abound and life is relatively sleepy. Still, shifts at Dunkin’ aren’t for everyone; Caitleen Desetti ’14 works as an office manager at Fiksu, a computer application company, while Sarah Needle ’15 can be found at Cedar Chest in Thornes. Sammie Scovill ’15 works at Pride & Joy, Northampton’s LGBTQ-centered store, and finds she enjoys both the work assigned and the job itself.

“I do basic retail work like helping customers, ringing up orders, folding, creating displays, and I also run a blog for the store,” said Scovill. “I took on this position because I didn’t have work study my first year and I needed money.”

The financial boost is one of the biggest benefits of taking on a job outside Smith. Still, there are drawbacks, too, including the potential for a demanding schedule, constraints placed on free time and the need to balance a part of life completely outside of Smith. This can be a positive thing for some, however.

“Working off-campus gives me a sense of community separate from Smith,” Scovill said. “I feel like I’m becoming more of a part of Northampton rather than just a temporary college student.”

Off-campus jobs are not the only offering provided by the world outside of Smith. Stephanie Bond ’13 received an offer to intern with the CELEST program and was also granted a large stipend. When asked how she felt about the experience, Bond elaborated, “I loved it. This position provided my strongest student-adviser relationship and I went back … to do more technical work, was allowed to run EEG experiments and apply caps … and wrote my own manuscript which might be published soon.” Still, she admits that, with the position over, she now has more free time.

“[I have] less stress,” she confessed. “[But] I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

In all, it seems that the key to benefitting the most from an outside job is learning balance.

“I’ve had a good experience working here. It has taught me a lot about a certain group of Northampton residents since they all hang out in Dunkin,” said Pearlman. “I work enough hours to have a decent paycheck. However, school definitely comes first and I make sure that I can balance my life. It’s stressful but worth it.”

Scovill focused more on the intrinsically positive aspects of her job, commenting, “It’s really fulfilling and helps to get me out of the Smith bubble.” It’s a sentiment many who share her schedule would likely agree with.

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