Keeping yourself alive isn’t cheap, and neither is college. Students at the University of Oregon are struggling to pay for the former as much as or more so than the latter, and that’s a problem.
A quick google search would make it appear as though there are hundreds of job opportunities in Eugene for students, but there are thousands of students and it seems most of them aren’t getting the employment they need.
Of the many students I’ve had the pleasure of knowing here at UO, a very small minority have jobs, despite almost everyone I’ve met complaining about being broke. So what exactly is going on? Well, there are a number of factors that might make it hard for a student to get a job. Schedule, lack of transportation and lack of experience are some examples, but these obstacles should be merely obstacles, not walls.
Eugene is a small city, but there is a lot of commercial real estate. Just along 13th Avenue there are more than 15 restaurants, coffee shops, and other potential employers. A few lucky students do have jobs on 13th, but the majority are forced to look farther from campus for opportunities. Distance seems to be one of the main issues. Students without cars have to walk or take public transport to their jobs, which seriously limits their options when in conjunction with a busy class schedule.
UO itself offers some jobs with good pay, but everyone I’ve talked to who has applied has not been hired. Working on campus would be ideal, but it is a reality that most students only dream of. Some of the opportunities offered by UO are internships that are hugely beneficial to resume building, but those options are few compared to the number of students who want them, and often don’t come with a paycheck.
In an effort to understand the situation better, I briefly talked to 51 students about their employment situation. Of the 51 I spoke to, 16 said they are employed, 22 said they are looking for employment, and 13 said they are not currently looking. All of the people I talked to were between 19 and 22 years old and they all attend UO.
Fifty-one students is a tiny percentage of the whole student body, but it gives a pretty good idea of student employment. The students who are not currently looking for employment represent an interesting demographic. When asked why they aren’t looking for a job, every response was either “not enough time” or “tired of looking.” A student who wished to stay anonymous said that he had applied to a new job every day for the first 10 days of winter term, but with no luck. “I’d be better off spending money to Uber out of Eugene for work.”
One girl I spoke to who has a job actually said that she has three jobs and works even more than she goes to class. One person having three jobs brings up another issue with student employment — competition. Some students will take multiple jobs at the same time for the sake of resume boosting and extra money. This not only affects physical and mental health but it deprives other students of potential employment opportunities as well.
UO should work on increasing the number of student job opportunities within the school, but they should also help facilitate student applications to other jobs. Campus takes up a large portion of Eugene and our presence is felt throughout. I’m confident small businesses would be happy to partner with UO to give students jobs. UO could supply almost any business with the employees they need and students could have guaranteed employment.