Part Time Work as an Undergraduate

Name: Sarah Hersh

Hometown: Willmette, IL

Year: Class 0f 2012

Majors: Writing Sems & Psychology


When I first came to college, my parents cut me off and stopped giving me a weekly allowance. I was excited to gain a bit more independence, but a little worried about my quickly dwindling cash. So, I set out to be responsible and started applying to jobs. I had expected these jobs on campus to be boring, sitting behind a desk doing nothing or filing for some random department. In my freshman year, I started working in the intramurals department to ref games, but never anticipated gaining actual life skills. It seemed fun, almost like a paid extracurricular. Soon, I realized that the job gave me the opportunity not only to make new friends across several grades, but also to handle difficult situations in conflict resolution. I learned to make split second decisions and then gained the confidence to stand by these calls in the face of angry students who got too competitive on the field. The intramural position was so enjoyable that I remained on staff throughout my entire undergraduate career.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with the Intramural staff.

By the time I was a junior, I applied for a second job in the Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit working in a psychiatry lab that researched the effects of Chantix, a drug used for smoking cessation, on alcoholics. Despite having no previous research experience, I used the skills I had gained from previous journalism internships and those I had gained as an intramural ref to land the paid position. I had the opportunity to run my own sessions with participants, sit in on meetings with the Principal Investigator, and spearhead an effort to further market the study. Although working two jobs in addition to my full course load was slightly overwhelming at times, I was glad to be gaining exposure to different fields. As a junior without a clue what I wanted to do after graduation with a Writing Seminars and Psychology double major, I was desperate to get my hands on as much diverse experience as possible.

Now as an early graduate working part time in the admissions department to supplement staying in Baltimore for what would have been my senior spring semester, I am grateful that my parents cut me off. I was able to gain several different skills that not only helped me grow as a person, but also aided in getting a job for next year as a Project Manager at the healthcare software company, Epic. These Hopkins jobs allowed me to feel connected with the University while still supplementing my own income and taught me valuable skills that I could never have learned in the classroom.

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