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In college? Finding job part time can be hard

It's no secret that the job market right now is beyond terrible. What is less discussed is the effect this has on college students.

Sure, you're supposed to be putting most of your time and energy into your education, but what about eventually paying off student loans? Or paying the rent? Or even having a little extra money on the side?

For whatever reason, many college students choose to get part-time jobs while in school. And getting a job while juggling classes is hard enough without a major recession to contend with. But there are ways to raise your chances. Here is what you should know about getting a part-time job in or around Buffalo.

Let's face it: Certain places are not going to hire you. This isn't because you are inexperienced, or because you wouldn't do a good job -- it's far more likely that there is some other circumstance that is totally out of your control.

For instance, if you're thinking about retail or the food industry, two of the most common areas where young people get employed, be prepared to think big. Small businesses like Caz Coffee Cafe and children's consignment shop Rumpelstiltskin's, though they may be appealing places to work, only need a few employees (if any). A couple of college students do work at Caz, but they have been employed for years. Also, in these situations, employers can afford to be pickier than at large businesses -- they only need to hire a couple of people at the most -- and they may need more flexibility than someone also juggling a full course load.

You also may want to aim a little lower than you expect, at least in terms of the fancy factor. According to Mai Lien Weatherbee, manager of the Left Bank bistro, upscale restaurants like hers rarely hire college students. Places like this -- high-class clientele, big tips, nice atmosphere -- are such good places to work that people rarely leave. They have very little turnover in their staffs -- out of 42 employees at Left Bank, only a handful are college students.

And make sure that wherever you want to work is ready to hire you part time. Many employers pass on college students simply because their schedules are so crammed with classes. Dreamscapes Landscaping, for example, willingly hires students home for the summer but is unlikely to be able to work around their course load while school is in session, says owner Gary Benson.

Here are a few examples of places that are ready and willing to hire motivated college students for part-time jobs. Even if you don't end up working at any of these places (after all, they can't hire everyone!), this can give you a good idea of what to look for.

Pizza Plant (Amherst): With two locations, around 80 employees total and about 40 employed college students under its roof, Pizza Plant is one of the best places to look for a job in Buffalo. If you have any food service experience at all, your chances here are better than almost everywhere else, by virtue of the numbers alone. Pizza Plant offers flexible schedules for students and even posts job openings on its Web site, which very few local businesses do.

Plato's Closet (Amherst): Unlike most businesses, Plato's Closet prides itself on its accessibility to students. "It's a great stepping stone," says Tamara Wolf, manager of the Amherst branch, explaining that out of 25 employees at her location, 19 of them attend college. To top it off, Plato's works extra hard to make sure students have an easy time fitting a job into their already busy lives. "[Plato's is] geared to teens and young adults to begin with," says Wolf. "We work around all school schedules."

Wegmans (seven locations): Rarely is one of the best places to work for overall also one of the best places for a college student to work, but Wegmans is one of these places -- it has been ranked in the Top 10 best places to work in Fortune magazine for the past seven years. The grocery superstore encourages young people to work part time and even offers competitive academic scholarships for its employees. Do I even have to tell you its schedules are flexible?

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