Are We Even Allowed to Work Outside of the University While In a Graduate Program?

 Modified: October 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Posted under the tag “career advice,” the article “More grad students should be allowed to take jobs outside academe (opinion)” published on Inside Higher Ed, “The Need for Outside Jobs in Grad School (the link opens in a new tab) that was posted on July 3, 2019, by Zeb Larson  (zeb.larson@gmail.com ), applies to should we allow or should we not allow outside work (work other than teaching and working on the dissertation) while in a graduate program. The dilemma of being a graduate student, while also holding outside of university work, is a current reality. Income has to come from somewhere while in school and it is likely a more common than not solution to try and look for a job outside of the university while in your graduate program. It appears that some programs frown on this solution. “Many graduate departments have some kind of rule in place to prevent graduate students from taking on outside work” (Larson). It appears that some programs will only allow the students to work an internship or teaching assistantship program and not hold non-educational employment because outside work is “often seen as an unnecessary distraction” (Larson). What about those of us that are in-between undergraduate and graduate programs and need to work to survive for the time being until they get accepted into a grad program? Are we supposed to tell our boss or supervisor when applying, “Hey, thanks for allowing me the opportunity to join your team and make a positive contribution to the business, however, in the near future, to be honest, when I pursue my education further and get accepted into a graduate school, I will not be able to work for you anymore because it is a school requirement?” That’s crazy, right, or is it just me?!

In theory, all of these concerns sound like good reasons to make sure that students don’t end up overburdening themselves with work outside of their teaching and dissertation. But in practice, such restrictions increasingly do not serve a useful function for graduate students or graduate departments. They no longer match the reality that many graduate students face either professionally or financially. (Larson)

🤔 It will be interesting to see when I enter graduate school if my program will allow me to hold outside work while completing my studies. I will definitely prefer to take an assistantship or educational job if one comes around, though with the growing popularity of the times in online master’s programs available as a valid option to students for their degrees, is educational graduate on-campus work a realistic proposition when enrolled in an online master’s program? The meat of Larson’s article supports great reasons to not try and look for outside work if we, as students, can help it. Personally, while I try to accept that I may need to work outside the teaching realm while in school, I shut down and become rather disturbed thinking to try and formulate myself a plan b with the scenarios that my graduate studies will not land me a teaching job or professorship. There is always that reality that the degree will not provide the desired work, and, moreover, I know this to be true from some of my time in non-educational employment as an undergraduate student. I will cross that bridge when – and if – it happens, using the best resources I have at that time. It’s a true statement that we don’t all end up working where we want, but, hey, one can still put in the effort to get where they want, right? Not to leave on a down and sour note, but, to stay in a balanced perspective, Larson closes his article with an opinion on our supposed precarity, the state of having insecure employment or income, that “given the precarity most of us young academics face, letting people take outside jobs would give us a leg up on the ‘alternate’ careers most of us will have” (Larson).

The references from the above article were on 24 July 2019 from Inside Higher Ed at https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/07/03/more-grad-students-should-be-allowed-take-jobs-outside-academe-opinion  (the link opens in a new tab).