Most universities employ hundreds of students every year. You can sometimes find jobs with excellent benefits, including free meals (working in the dining halls), free housing (residence hall advisor), or even priority registration (depending on your school: campus tour operators, shuttle drivers, and office assistants). There are many opportunities available ranging from recreation instructors to orientation interns. Search the career services center, human resources website, or look at job posting boards at your school to see what is available.
You can try different jobs every quarter/semester or stay in the same job for the entire time you are at college. The nice part about working on campus is that your supervisors understand that you are students first and employees second. This means that they will try to setup a work schedule for you that revolves around your classes. Your supervisors will also understand why you need a day off before a huge final project is due. However, make sure to be ethical and not just say you have a test coming up so you can skip days of work!
Colleges prefer hiring students, so it is easier for you to get hired and also, the job is on campus, which saves you a lot of driving. In the end, on-campus jobs give you work experience, which is vital for your resume.
Working in a part-time job, while attending school, will teach you a lot about time management, responsibility, and working with others. Again, trust me when I say this: the more you have to do, the more productive you become. You will not spend an entire day watching television or playing video games if you know that you have to work from 6-10pm and you have a midterm the next day. Working and going to school can be very time consuming, but if you manage your time right, you will still have plenty of time to hangout with friends, watch your favorite televsion show, go to an organization meeting, and get enough sleep.
Having a job requires a certain amount of responsibility. Even if you do not have a supervisor directly watching over you, you are still expected to show up to work on time. Also, to be able to work, you will likely need to learn new skills (i.e. driving a shuttle, computer tech support, cooking). Mastering these new skills can be a good confidence builder. And keeping an on-campus job through college shows future employers or graduate schools that you are a dedicated, hard-working student willing to learn new things.
You may even be able to work your way up to a job where you get to train new employees. This will improve your leadership and mentoring skills. While I was an undergraduate student, I worked as a surf instructor for the Recreation Department. This was a great job because I only worked four hours per week and by my second year I helped create new surf classes, worked on lesson plans, and trained new instructors. I learned not only how to teach, but how to improve class lessons so that students would be safer in the water. By my fourth year, I was even the most experienced instructor, because the older students had graduated and found full-time jobs. You will not find moving up in the real world to be as easy. Working as a surf instructor helped develop my leadership and communication skills, while also being an incredibly fun job!
I also worked as a resident advisor my third and fourth year. This job prepared me to work in just about any career out there. For my residents, I was not just the person who enforced policies or hosted entertaining programs, I was also the one to go to for any problems (on campus, family, friends, or just in life) or to ask advice on what classes to take or what to major in. I was given a huge responsibility and I took my job very seriously.
At my first job interview, I was able to answer almost half of the questions (all about experiences) by just saying that I was a resident advisor and explaining some of the situations I had to handle. As a resident advisor, I was trained in many areas, including diversity, conflict management, problem solving, and listening skills. My leadership and communication skills vastly improved throughout my two years. I worked in the residential life office five hours, once every three weeks, as part of the job. This is where I learned administrative and customer service skills. Once I had finished my job as a resident advisor, I felt confident handling almost any situation. And, even though I was not completely qualified for an administrative job, the skills I had learned and the confidence I had developed as a resident advisor helped me succeed in getting an administrative job after graduation.