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On the Job with Amy: Student Employment at Harvard

Hi everyone - I’m excited that you’re reading the first of many posts in my spring blog series on student employment at Harvard! I’ll be featuring the work and perspectives of student employees around campus, and I’m looking forward to you following along with their stories. Stay tuned for more blog posts featuring students and their jobs at Harvard.

Just to tell you a little more about myself before I dive into student employment - my name is Amy Zhao, and I’m a senior at the College who’s pursuing a concentration in Economics and a secondary in Energy & the Environment. I love playing oboe in my conductorless orchestra River Charles Ensemble, rowing with the Adams House intramural crew team, and competing with the Harvard Ballroom Dance Team. And let’s not forget that I also love working at the Student Employment Office (SEO) with an awesome team consisting of my supervisors Matt and Steven!

Supervisors of the Harvard Student Employment Office
Above: Meet Matt and Steven, my supervisors at the Student Employment Office!

As the student coordinator, I’m responsible for an assortment of responsibilities ranging from creating this blog and other social media content to planning on-campus events that highlight student employment (namely for National Student Employment Week). Other responsibilities include designing creative content such as the SEO’s official brochure and website.

My job at the SEO is honestly one of the best things that I got involved with in college. Not only did I find myself working with a great team, I also found the position to be an incredibly rewarding experience in which I feel like I’m making impactful contributions. I enjoy the level of autonomy I have in this role to build things from scratch - it’s quite fulfilling to see a project transform from a fleeting idea to a solid deliverable that didn’t exist before. Along the way, I’ve also learned so much about staying flexible and adapting to not only changing circumstances but also to different working styles of other people.

I’ve always loved working as a student on campus because all my term-time employment opportunities have helped me build interpersonal skills that supplement my academic education. Sure, working in class group projects will let you exercise some degree of teamwork skills, but it really couldn’t compare with working in a team on a project with real-life, tangible consequences. So starting from when I worked as a lifeguard in high school, I’ve continued to balance work with school well into college too, first working as a manager at Harvard Student Agencies and now as a student coordinator at the SEO.

“Balancing” really is the key word here. I appreciate the structure that student employment lends to my daily schedule, but it does call for some prioritizing on my end. Given that there are so many other incredible activities to be involved in on campus, making the deliberate decision to carve out time for student employment was really important to me. As a result, I’ve become more disciplined with how I use my time, since I know that it is a limited resource. In particular, I’ve found that tracking where I spend my time is a helpful tool for not only keeping myself accountable but also helping me fit in all the activities that I want to commit time to.

Screenshot of student time management spreadsheet
Above: This is a pretty helpful tool for me to stay organized with my schedule!

Overall, student employment has helped me grow as an individual both professionally and personally. My time working on campus has definitely prepared me to work in the real world where we’re off to become “real adults.” Next year, when I’ll be working as a consultant at Strategy& in Houston, I’ll have my student employment experience to thank for giving me the necessary skills to feel (and hopefully be) successful in the future.

If you’re heading to college next year (and maybe even coming here!), seriously consider including student employment into your schedule. And this is real advice that I’m not just being paid to write about - I’ve convinced my younger brother who’s a freshman at Stanford to also pick up a job, and he absolutely loves it for all the same reasons I’ve mentioned above (although I haven’t convinced him to adopt a spreadsheet to track his time commitments yet.) You’ll definitely meet amazing people and build new skills along the way - and where’s the harm in a little extra pocket money?


About the author

Hi everyone! My name is Amy, and I’m from Milpitas, CA, a city nestled in the Silicon Valley. As a senior in the class of 2018, I’ll be graduating (knock on wood!) with a concentration... View full profile

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