There’s Something about that Job, Job, Job, Job…

Want to gain a sense of financial independence? (Not really) Then getting a part time job on Rice’s campus might be the best choice for you!

When I first got into Rice, I was overwhelmed by all my new financial responsibilities as an undergraduate student. It was the first time I had to manage my own money and I was not good at it at all. Therefore, I decided to get a job. There are a lot of jobs available on campus: from working in Rice Coffeeshop to writing for the Rice newspaper and grading for your math class. There is also a website for Rice students to check out what jobs are available. So you are very likely to find something you are truly interested in. However, when I was applying, I did not know for sure what I really loved since I was only a freshmen with zero work experience. I tried to narrow it down to three or four jobs. After a few interviews, I was lucky enough to get a job offer from the Rice Geographic Information System Data Center (GDC) as a student assistant.

The GDC is located in the basement of Rice’s Fondren Library. It mainly helps students or faculty visualize their research on a map with Geographic Information System (GIS). I came in with zero experience with GIS, but the GDC head, Kim, and GDC specialist, Jean, offered me great resources to learn GIS and trained me on almost everything I needed to excel using this system.

After the training, my main responsibilities as a student assistant were threefold: 1) Help patrons in the GDC when they run into problems, 2) Help Jean with her courses, 3) Work on my own projects. I have helped students from the Architecture to the Earth Sciences departments with their projects. Every time I work with them, I learn a lot from their projects and of course, how to debug common GIS system errors. I still remember for the first couple of months, whenever I was asked a question, I would always ask Jean for additional help because I had no idea what to do. I was so glad that neither Jean nor the patron got annoyed for me not being able to help, and it motivated me to keep learning! The good news is that after working at the GDC for a year, I don’t need to ask Jean all the time to answer patron’s questions!

The GDC offers many courses to help Rice students and faculty learn how to use GIS. If the class size is larger than around 10 people, one of the GDC student workers are there to assist Jean in the class and help answer any questions. Some student workers even offer their own courses, and that is a valuable experience for them!

My favorite part of working in the GDC is having my own projects to work on. Jean and Kim respect my own interests when assigning the projects. They worked with me on a GIS tutorial for a Civil Engineering class because I am a Civil Engineering major. They introduced me to a professor working on oil spills when they heard that I am interested in energy and environment. What I appreciate the most about my projects is that I am not alone. even when I am working on projects not related to the GDC itself. Jean and Kim are both willing to help and brainstorm with me when I have no idea where I am going. The GDC for me is truly like a family.

Besides job opportunities, the GDC also has really cool events going on. All GDC workers have a pizza party at the end of each semester. Each worker also gets a survival pack for finals – with my favorite snacks! Last semester, a few student workers went bowling with Jean and Kim (though I was unable to go 🙁 ) Recently, we have been busy decorating the place for the holiday season.

The GDC family board!

Working in the GDC and on Rice’s campus is a lot of fun. My experience is only a small portion of part time student workers’ lives. So if you want to work on campus and maybe learn something useful while earning money, Rice offers students lots of opportunities!

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