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    You Call This Work?

    These students are having fun and getting paid for it.

    Heather Scheiwe

    When you hear the phrase "dream job," you probably think of something that happens after years of school and hard work—or maybe some kind of great, life-changing opportunity that only happens to a few lucky people.

    But why wait that long? There are a lot of creative ways to earn money for school, even while you're still going to class and studying for exams. Check out these examples of college students who've found ways to earn college cash and follow their dreams.

    Diggin' His Work

    Ryan Dalton gets pumped every time he stands in front of an audience with his college choir. He's also discovered that it's just as thrilling to stand behind the audience—for his campus job as a sound technician.

    As a sound tech, Ryan is guaranteed a seat at his school's rock and pop shows. He spends a lot of time adjusting knobs on the soundboard for that just-right mix of music. Ryan says there's just something very cool about shooting for the perfect sonic blend of beat, bass and melody.

    During his freshman year, Ryan started hanging around the upperclassmen who handled the school's stage controls. Before long, he was spending his Friday nights eating pizza and watching his new friends adjust the hundreds of controls for lights, speakers and special effects.

    "It was awesome," says Ryan. "I knew I wanted to do it."

    So one night he asked the tech guys if he could give it a try. His friends were more than willing to see what Ryan could do. Before long, he became an important part of the sound and light team. In Ryan's way of thinking, he'd landed a dream job.

    "I dig my job," Ryan shouts as he fiddles with the rows and rows of knobs in front of him. "How many people get to hang out with rock bands and wear whatever they want at work?"

    Coffee Lover's Paradise

    Ever since her first whiff of freshly ground beans, Betsy Ortmann has loved coffee shops. "They're the perfect places to meet friends or be anonymous, to hear great music and drink great stuff," says Betsy. "If I want to know the personality of a community, I find the local coffee shop."

    Betsy also believed students at her school needed this kind of atmosphere on campus—someplace to hang out and get connected with something other than their computers. She dreamed about starting her own coffee shop on campus. But on a student's budget, she was sure her dream would never turn into reality.

    Then she found out about a special school grant for students who wanted to start their own on-campus businesses. She applied and got it.

    Betsy threw herself into researching what it would take to run her own coffee shop. She then used her grant money to purchase equipment. Before long, a dorm lounge was transformed into The Essence of Bean—complete with a fireplace, couches and a piano.

    Betsy spends two evenings a week running the shop, working to the sound of steaming milk and chatting friends. She loves whipping up lattes that could be framed as works of art. And with a few extra bucks in her pocket, she feels pretty successful in the coffee shop business. In fact, she's even hired another student to help her out. Along with an ever-expanding menu, The Essence of Bean also features live music. With lights twinkling, friends chatting and acoustic guitar playing in the background, Betsy's dream has become reality.

    A Gym of a Job

    As part of his financial aid package, Tung Do received a work-study job. Tung was thankful. It would help pay for his tuition. Even so, his job in the cafeteria didn't excite him all that much. So he started talking to some of his profs about other work-study possibilities. When he talked to his gym teacher, he almost saw the guy's face light up—especially when Tung said he had experience working in a weight room. Turns out the gym teacher had been looking for an assistant.

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