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A New Generation: The Working (Through) College Student

By: Katherine Prosowicz (kproso2@uic.edu)

While the US unemployment rate may have fallen below 8 percent, the rate for young adults is much higher, reaching 13.2 percent. For a college student, not having a job may be especially damaging with the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses.

Patricia Porzezinski scrambles quickly to catch the train after her psychology class at UIC to get to work as a housekeeper. Although she plans to be a psychologist in the future for now, she is scrubbing toilets and floors to meet her bills.

“I don’t like to tell my friends or classmates but I work as a housekeeper. Still, I’m glad that I have something that is bringing in money to pay for books and stuff like that, it gives me independence,” said Porzezinski.

While the US unemployment rate may have fallen below 8 percent, the rate for young adults is much higher, reaching 13.2 percent. For a college student, not having a job may be especially damaging with the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses.ing that is bringing in money to pay for books and stuff like that, it gives me independency,” said Porzezinski.

Yet, some students are breaking out of the conventional job mold and making money using their skills and hobbies.

“Some of my friends consider me a clean-freak and I am very organized so I work quickly. It is hard work at times but because of this, I can pay for some expenses and I can set my own schedulem,” said Porzezinski.

There are many other skills and hobbies being put to use in order to earn extra cash. UIC student Ulupi Bodiwala has created a sort of a business for herself, tutoring middle school, high school and college students.  She was required to tutor in high school but she eventually fell in love with it. Bodiwala became very passionate about her work but it was not until her second year of university where she started to charge for it.

“It’s a passion of mine and if I can get paid to do it, then why not?  It’s a good thing to do and it’s also a win-win thing.  They get the good grades in school that they want and need and I get money so I can go to college and pay for it to further my education,” said Bodiwala.

Bodiwala tries to match her free time up with the student’s schedule. In order to expand her services, Bodiwala also babysits some of the children when they are with her. This way, she is helping both the parent and the child as well as herself. As a result of her experiences, Bodiwala feels very confident in her teaching abilities and has reviewed topics that she would have otherwise forgotten.

“Years ago, I would watch the show “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?”. Where some contestants failed, I was able to remember because of all the tutoring I had done on a topic. It’s really interesting to see what adults forget topics that seem important to remember,” said Bodiwala.

Similarly, UIC student Amanda Rodriguez is putting her interests and passion in developmental psychology and experience with her twin cousins into use by being a nanny for other children. Like Porzezinski, Rodriguez could not find a job that suited her needs after high school. Rodriguez does not live on campus and her commute is around two hours long in one directions. Because of this, Rodriguez needed an occupation where she scheduled her own hours.

“At times, I feel like I run my own nanny agency. I get into contact with mothers, learn the needs of the child and the family, and then figure out how I can fit the family in my schedule. I have gotten really good at managing my time, something I was horrible at before,” said Rodriguez.

Currently, Rodriguez has four children under her regular care, ranging from ages one to eight. She feeds, bathes, plays, and transports the children to wherever they need to go. However, the number of children is constantly changing, especially with the economy.

“Sometimes a parent will lose their job and as a result, I lose that job. I just try to put myself out there as much as possible and do my best. I still like this better than working on a fixed schedule with mundane tasks. Still, in the summer is when I am the busiest but it’s the best time for me because I am on break,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriquez is not the only one uses her interests and free time to make a little extra cash. UIC student Heather Elawawadh turns to her familial roots and tradition in order to create quilts and other handcrafted goods. Elawawadh knits clothing, makes quilts, and cross stiches. She then sends the finished product to her friends store in Pennsylvania.

As a student, mother, and wife, Elawawadh primarily uses the summer to make her creations. On a typical day, she will start a project early morning and continue in intervals as she does other tasks like cooking or playing with her children. Elawawadh can end up making pillows, to throw blankets, bed blankets, and children’s clothing. Still, quilting is her favorite because she has the opportunity stitch her personality into the piece. She does have to reserve quilting for the summer though, since it can take months to finish a full size quilt or days to finish a baby quilt.

Summer is a prime time in order to make a little extra money. Not only do students have extra time from classes being out of session but the warm weather also opens up more opportunities to make money.

Harper College student Anjali Sing uses her summer to create hemp jewelry. She first got interested in hemp from her involvement in environmental club and her love of 70’s music. She got her start making the jewelry during an awareness event for her club. She got into contact with a local band that then helped raise funds by teaching her group mates the technique.  It is during the summer, where there is an abundance of festivals and concerts, that she sells her necklaces and bracelets. However, Sing does not consider this her job as she works part-time at Jason’s Deli.

“I don’t let my hobby take over, sometimes I go weeks or months without making anything because I’m all caught up school and work,” said Sing. “Selling the pieces also change the way I feel about the pieces. I do not want this to be primarily for making money,” she continues.

However, Elawawadh has a different opinion when it comes to selling her goods. For her, knitting, sewing, and cross-stitching is deeply ingrained in her family. Elawawadh feels that her hobbies are becoming a dying art. This is one of the ways she can both distribute her work and inspire her children to take up the trade. As a result, she plans to continue her hobby even if she chooses to no longer sell her product.

The same sentiment is echoed by Porzezinski, Bodiwala, and Rodriguez, who also plan to continue their skills or hobbies even after they find a more stable job and look upon their experiences as a positive event.

“As of now, housework keeps me going despite that it really is hard work. I only have a few houses but this experience reminds me of my mother who was an immigrant to this country. I have a greater understanding of what she sacrificed and the people I work for are great. It’s not like after this experience I plan on being a slob,” said Porzezinski.

Therefore, despite that some students have taken on jobs that are unconventional or less than ideal, students have displayed resiliency in a tough economy.

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