One of the harsh realities for college students today is that at some point in your college career you're probably going to need to get a part-time job. Most likely, it won't have anything to do with your major and ultimately won't help you achieve your future goals in any way. But you've got to do it to pay for that extra guac on your burrito or the $180 textbook that you need for class, or even for rent once you're free of the dorms. Any why not Starbucks? God knows you're probably there every day anyway.

When I was barely 17, I decided to apply to the Starbucks down the street from my neighborhood. I could walk to work (pre-car days, ya know), and it seemed like a good enough job. Plus, my sister was a store manager at another store in the same district, so I felt like I had a pretty good path cut out for me to enter the world of the 'bucks. So (as I'm sure you could guess by the title of this article), I got the job. And I went home after my first day, and I made a Tumblr post about it because that's what you did when you were 17 in 2012. 

coffee, beer, pizza
Morgan Nielsen

And so my adventure began. In the four and a half years since then, I've had three store managers, become a shift supervisor and a coffee master (which is kind of a big deal), seen a dozen new drinks be released, and so much more.

I'm still at that same store that I walked into shaking on the day that I made that Tumblr post, and I wouldn't change anything about my Starbucks experience. As far as I'm concerned, Starbucks is one of the best jobs you can get while you're in school. The pay is fine, but it means so much more than that #tobeapartner

1. Free Coffee (Obviously)

coffee, beer, tea
Morgan Nielsen

Other than free drinks while you're working (and half an hour before or after your shift), every Starbucks partner also get one free "mark out" a week. Your mark out can be K-cups, whole bean coffee, Instant Via coffee, Verismo pods, or a box of Teavana tea. The bottom line? I don't remember the last time I paid for coffee. 

2. An Awesome Discount

tea, coffee, green tea, espresso
Morgan Nielsen

So beyond the free coffee mentioned above (and one free food item per shift so we don't literally starve), all Starbucks partners receive 30% off on everything else all the time. This includes drinks and food items when you're not working and any merchandise.

As you can expect, that can lead to a pretty extensive collection of really cute cups and mugs. Seriously, I have two entire cabinet shelves full of Starbucks cups. It's honestly excessive, but when it's pretty much like it's all on sale all the time it can be hard to resist the shiny new mugs coming in every few months. 

3. Early Access to New/Seasonal Products 

tea, coffee, milk
Morgan Nielsen

That picture? That's me drinking an eggnog chai (#cheggnog) and a chestnut praline latte on November 2nd of last year. When the general public only gets a few months of these and other seasonal faves, most stores get in the new or seasonal syrups and beverage components 2-3 weeks before the launch and most managers let us open some of the product early, which means we get a head start on the festivities every year.

But even if you consider yourself to be like BFFs with your favorite barista, don't even bother asking for any of it before it's officially launched. We really actually can't and we won't give it to you. Heck, most of the time we probably won't even admit that we have it. Corporate is super strict about it unless it's a planned sampling event or something like that, so there's no point in making us feel bad for saying no.

4. The Benefits

For a long time, Starbucks has been an industry leader in the benefits they offer their partners. From the competitive health insurance offered to part-time employees (you only have to average 20 hours a week to qualify) to 401K options, Starbucks can offer a college student some pretty grown-up perks for a college job. Plus, after your first year you start earning shares of Starbucks stock, and you just know that that's going to stay a solid investment for a long time coming. 

5. The Culture

Morgan Nielsen

Starbucks is pretty well known for being a socially-aware and involved company. From their initiative to start an open discussion about race relations in America and their support of marriage equality to their newest “upstander” program, Starbucks often addresses issues that many other corporate companies tend to ignore. Howard Shultz (CEO of Starbucks) strongly believes in using the size of his company to help bring awareness to important social issues.

Many stores and districts also participate in the #Extrashotofgood program, where partners get together to volunteer in various ways to help their community on a local level. From donating coffee and merchandise to charity auctions to beach cleanups, Starbucks is way more involved (at a local and a national level) than many people realize, and I’m proud to be a part of that. 

I can say, without a doubt, that Starbucks has had a huge impact on the last nearly five (holy crap) years of my life. Sure, it has its ups and downs like any retail/foodservice job, but I really will be kind of bummed when it's time for me to leave my apron behind and go out into the big kid world with my degree next summer.

Next time you're picking up job applications for a few extra bucks here and there, hop on over to and fill in an application. You'll be suprised how rad it can be.