Sahila Kudalkar
Sahila Kudalkar, MPP Class of 2023

Sahila Kudalkar, MPP'23, shares some advice to incoming students on finding on-campus jobs.

Congratulations on your acceptance into Harris! An exciting two years of learning, collaboration, and growth lie ahead. By now, you are already preparing for your Harris life—looking for apartments and roommates, processing visa/employment paperwork, and planning for the upcoming Math & Coding Camp. Many of you may also be sorting out finances and wondering how to approach applying for on-campus jobs.

Besides being a great way to help finance grad school, on-campus jobs can be a valuable way to familiarize yourself with the campus community, learn new skills, apply your expertise to new areas, and translate your classroom learning into real-world results. Below are some tips to help you navigate the search for on-campus opportunities. 

Where to begin?

Most on-campus jobs will be posted on UChicago GRADGargoyle. You can view campus-wide opportunities and some Harris positions on GRADGargoyle. Access to GRADGargoyle will be provided in the summer before the start of your first quarter. You may also learn about opportunities through your UChicago email, so do monitor your inbox regularly for openings. Be sure to also check your academic advisor’s emails, as they sometimes contain information about one-off hiring opportunities.

Maximize your chances using a targeted search

Consider your top skills, interests, and target jobs that are well-suited to your previous education/work experience. If you are looking to switch disciplines, ask yourself if you can make a compelling argument for why you are a good candidate. Some opportunities may be better targeted after you have completed the Core Curriculum. A targeted search will save you time—a scarce and precious commodity during the Core.

Research assistantships: Do your homework

Reach out to faculty whose research excites you. You can use the Harris expert-guide to read about faculty research. Remember to check out Harris-affiliated research centers, faculty webpages, and read research papers before emailing faculty. In the introductory email, do point out how your interests and background align with faculty work, and highlight any relevant skills and previous research experiences that can support your application. Many advertised research assistant opportunities in Harris also require knowledge of R, Stata, or Python, so do work through your Dataquest modules once you gain access before the start of Autumn quarter.

Plan your daily schedule

Time management can be challenging, especially during the first two quarters. Plan for a minimum 15-20 hours per week per course for assignments, pre-assigned readings, lectures, and TA sessions. There’s a whole array of new experiences waiting as you explore Chicago and adjust to your new life.

Most students are eligible to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the quarter. However, we recommend that (if possible) students scale back their hours during the Core to allow time to navigate graduate school and build in time for self-care and socializing. This may require talking with potential employers about flexible hours. Talk with your academic advisor for tips and resources on managing your time and responsibilities in graduate school.

Talk with your CDO coach

Harris’ excellent Career Development Office can help you highlight your top skills and assemble a compelling application. Beginning in September, CDO Coaches can help you polish your resume, draft strong cover letters, and help you hone your interview skills, among other things. You can book coaching appointments through HarrisLink, which you will get access to later in the summer before your first quarter.

Start early!

Some on-campus jobs have application deadlines as early as the end of spring. On-campus jobs are competitive, and the sooner you apply, the better your chances of landing one.