Frequently Asked Questions-Career and Professional Development Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm a first-year student. What do I need to know about on-campus student employment?

Welcome to Carnegie Mellon and the Student Employment program! The Career Success Guide, What the New Student Employee Needs to Know (.pdf) contains information that will be especially helpful to you as a first-year student or anyone new to student employment at Carnegie Mellon. 

If you would like further information, contact Pati Kravetz at

Why should I work?

The first and most obvious reason is financial assistance. As a student, you may earn money to help pay for your living expenses, offset college costs, and reduce student loans. You will receive a paycheck every two weeks and may use the money for whatever you choose.

Contrary to popular opinion, students who work perform well academically. In fact, work contributes significantly to a student's overall educational experience.

Students, particularly freshmen, are more likely to stay in school if they work on campus. Dr. Lee Noel, a national authority on student success, writes, "With campus jobs, students automatically become involved with the campus. Their student employment provides them with an easy way of belonging, a natural tie-in to at least one office on campus."

Work experience boosts a student's career, according to a national survey of both employers and students. A national survey of human resource directors revealed that 89% thought work experience was as important as grades in hiring applicants.

On-campus employment is a resume-building experience that provides students with the opportunity to develop transferable professional skills and to experience the challenges and rewards of learning by doing. 

Am I eligible to work on campus?

A student employee is defined as "an individual whose employment at the university is incidental to the pursuit of obtaining a degree." Any student who is enrolled at least half-time (18 units) in a degree-granting program at Carnegie Mellon can participate in the campus employment program. To qualify to work during the summer session, the student must be admitted to, or continuing in, a degree-granting program at Carnegie Mellon.

How many hours may I work?

Students may work a total of 37.5 hours per week. International students with F1 or J1 visas are allowed by immigration regulations to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full time during Summer and Winter holidays. International students should consult with the Office of International Education (Warner Hall, third floor, 412.268.3520) for detailed information about employment regulations.

What do I need to do to make sure I get paid on time? What should I do if I have problems with my timecard or with getting paid?

All undergraduate students employed on campus have bi-weekly appointments and are required to complete and submit a timecard documenting hours worked. Graduate students with hourly appointments must also complete a timecard. The timecard must be signed by both the student and their supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for mailing the signed timecard to Payroll.

Money earned is paid bi-weekly directly to the student employee through direct deposit into either a direct deposit checking or savings account or a paycard. If a student is employed in more than one position, the student will receive ONE deposit. Graduate students who have both an hourly and monthly job will be paid once per month, on the monthly payday.

Payroll Information

For questions about your pay or taxes, call Payroll Services at 412.268.2097 or email

What is work-study? How can I find out whether I have a work-study award, or find out how much my work-study award is for?

All student jobs are categorized as either Work-Study eligible or Non-Work Study. Questions about work-study awards or eligibility can be answered by the staff at the HUB. Call 8-8186 or stop at the HUB office located at Warner Hall, Concourse level.

Work-Study Jobs

If you apply for financial aid, you are automatically considered for a form of aid called Federal Work-Study. If eligible, a dollar amount will appear on your financial aid letter. Work-Study provides an opportunity to work and earn up to the amount of your award. If you have a work-study award, you can apply for any job that you are qualified for. Your work-study award will be used toward any job you have on-campus, including federal community service positions, in which the job itself must also meet certain requirements. 

If you will be paid through a work-study award, you may be limited to earning no more than the amount of your award. Once your earnings reach your work-study award limit, the employer has the option of continuing employment. Due to budget restrictions, the department may have to end your appointment. You may then seek employment in an on-campus non-work-study position.

Non-Work-Study Jobs

If you are not eligible, or did not apply, for financial aid you can still work on campus. If you have the qualifications listed in the job description and it says, "Qualified Student May" or "Prefer Work Study", you may apply.

What can I do if I want a job in my field but don't see any posted?

Try visiting the main office of the department you are interested in working for and explaining your interest. Offer to leave your name and contact information; even if there are no jobs available right now, positions may become available in the future.

What if I want to be a research assistant or teaching assistant?

Sometimes it seems that professors hire the students they already know. Get to know the professors in your area of interest. Set up an appointment to talk about your interests and ask them for advice. Let them know that you are enthusiastic and available if they need any help.

What if the department or the professors say they don't have any money to hire me?

Ask if they can offer academic credit in the form of an internship, research assistantship, or independent study. If they say yes, make sure you talk with the academic advisor for that department to find out departmental procedures for registration as well as talking to your own academic advisor. In addition to satisfying certain requirements, such as class level, most departments will require you to have a faculty sponsor. The sponsor will direct you and help define the academic component of your work, monitor your progress, and assign a final grade.

What other local part-time jobs are available off-campus?

Local internships and summer jobs are also listed in TartanTRAK. The Career Center also offer "Career Classifieds" to students interested in local part-time jobs. You can access Career Classifieds in TartanTRAK.