So. What about working during the school year?
Part-time employment is not uncommon, either on campus or off. (This is especially true if you are willing to make websites for Babson students*.) The specifics vary, but if it's cold hard cash you're after, a part-time job can be had -- and, in my opinion, to no particular academic or social detriment.
We engineering types often like to talk about trade-offs. I discuss my own experiences balancing Olin and a side job, after the jump.
On-campus jobs typically have a handful of perks: flexible hours, consistently awesome employers, and zero travel time, so they fit pretty well into even the busiest of schedules. (Olin pays a reasonable hourly wage based on class year.)
I found that my few hours on student payroll were great for funding my social expenses, but last year, I was also looking to save up for a semester abroad. Working off-campus - I ended up at a local restaurant - offered a higher wage, though it certainly cut into my free time. I was duly concerned that my life would degenerate into nothing but work, but hey, money can be a powerful motivator.
On academics. Squeezing in project meetings can be tough. I found I had to be pretty upfront about my outside commitments - and even with compromises all around, we'd often end up starting around a non-ideal 10:30 pm. (Bring snacks.) On the upside, we were more efficient with the time constraints. (This principle seemed to apply to problem sets, too.)
All work no play? Absolutely not. There are some sacrifices: time spent lounging on the Great Lawn gets cut short, I catch only the end of what was probably a good movie, and I miss some impromptu dinners out. (I am always woefully behind on campus gossip.)
So, yes, some day-to-day spontaneity is lost - but forward planning is easy enough, and I got out plenty. (Not having to balk at the cost of a ski trip? Yes, please!) Campus events are typically promoted enough in advance that they can be scheduled around, and parties don't really kick up until long after the latest shift ends.
Some extra perks. Getting out of the Olin bubble is a big plus. My job provided a regular break from engineering, and I actually found the change in scenery a little stress-relieving. (And since I ate for free on the job, I could get the spicy food the dining hall doesn't provide!)
A lot of the experience, of course, varies with individual personality, motivations, actual job descriptions, and so on. I certainly can't tell you what you should and shouldn't do, but I can say that the part-time job is still a viable option at Olin. (For what it's worth, I have every intention of picking both my jobs back up once I return in January.)
And with that, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'll do my best to answer them.
- Andrea, '11
p.s. The future will hold plenty of opportunities to post pretty pictures, talk about my upcoming life in Lyngby-Taarbaek, and other such things. Please forgive this giant block of text!
* I kid. Sometimes, we just like to give our neighbors a hard time.