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Stop settling for $7.25 an hour.

In January 2016, the national department store chain, Walmart, was thrust into the spotlight by deciding to change the way the pay their employees.  It was revealed that the store would pay a minimum $10 per hour for part-time employees, and even more for full-time ones across the country.

The news gained a great deal of news coverage and became a topic of conversation throughout the country, because the national minimum wage set by the government is $7.25, a significantly lower number than what Walmart was promising to offer their employees.

Since that decision was made and the pay raises went into effect, more and more national chains have been following in Walmart’s footsteps, providing higher incentives to their employees in order to bring in more potential workers. These changes in how national brands are promising to treat their employees is a fantastic opportunity for many demographics; however, college students, and even recent grads, can potentially find the most benefits out of the increased minimum wage from national department stores, if they know where to look.


IKEA is a well-known furniture store that has made a rather respectable name for itself across America. The company has further increased its popularity by raising their minimum wage to a whopping $12 an hour, even for new hires!

This store is a great option for students on break because there are stores located almost everywhere in the country, allowing for students to easily find a store no matter where they live. The company also prides themselves on employee satisfaction, because keeping employees happy means that they will be able to reduce spending on recruiting; therefore, students are almost ensured to have a pleasant experience as an IKEA employee.


As Joey from “Friends” once said, there is a GAP on every corner nowadays! The clothing store has been around since 1969, so they definitely know a thing or two about how to treat their employees. As of 2015, the company raised their minimum wage to about $10 an hour, which is much higher than most other common retail positions.

The company states that they are interested in more than just selling clothes; they are interested in giving back to their communities across America and being a place that employees are proud to work for, which means that they are more than willing to hear and address the needs of their workers.

If the increased pay and employee loyalty are not enticing enough, college students should be even more interested in a summer position at GAP based on their generous employee discount of 50 percent off of both GAP and Banana Republic clothing, as well as twenty-five percent off Old Navy merchandise. Students will be heading back to school in style with all of their new discounted clothing!

Best Buy

As the ever-growing technology of the digital age continues to expand, Best Buy has become a national treasure, providing the latest and greatest gadgets for play and work purposes. Since our country, and world for that matter, are so reliant on technology, places like Best Buy are bound to be located across the globe. Not only should they be easy to find, they are likely to be looking for young, tech-savvy potential hires to keep their company thriving. To accomplish their goal of continual growth and success, Best Buy entices their employees with a generous $10.94 as a starting hourly wage.

Not only will students be raking in a decent amount of cash while working for Best Buy, but they will also be presented with an amazing opportunity to learn and keep up to speed about the hottest new technology. Never again will they have to surf the web, searching for the best computer or TV for their needs; instead, they can rely on their employee training knowledge and have the confidence to know the best deals and brands to look for.

Best of all, students can use their employee discounts in the most practical way possible, purchasing expensive school supplies. Purchasing laptops, tablets, chargers and other school necessities can be extremely expensive, especially at the prices set by most university bookstores. Taking advantage of a decent employee discount can be seen as a very wise investment for students for both their years in school and beyond.

Trader Joe’s

And closing out the list, with one of the highest hourly payments of a jaw-dropping $13.84 is the popular grocery store, Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s originally opened in 1958, but the company gained popularity and began expanding throughout the United States during the early 2000s. They are now nationally known for their organic and one-of-a-kind products.

College students are always in need of a refreshing change of pace when it comes to the food they eat, so why not take a job at Trader Joe’s, earn a whole lot of cash and find some new go-to favorite snacks and recipes?

Part-time jobs that can actually allow students to make enough money to survive an entire school year is are alarmingly scarce, but these big-name, national companies are starting to realize that there can be a change in the way students are compensated for their work. One of the biggest benefits of working in your hometown at one of these national chains is that there will likely be the same store in the town where your school is located, meaning that if need be, you can likely pick up right where you left off and continuing working during the school year as well as breaks.

Finding a job that pays students well can also be a motivating factor to go above and beyond while on the clock. The risk of slacking off and being let go from such a well-paying job might just be the push that students need to give everything they’ve got into a summer job. That hard work could also have long-term benefits, given that a boss is far more likely to give a great recommendation down to the line to a loyal and dedicated employee who actually worked hard for his or her compensation.

By using this guide, students can start to see that there are well-paying jobs that can be found anywhere in the country. Starting one of them, and giving it all you have will guarantee you a less stressful year, since you will not have to worry about finances as much, and a promising future.

Writer Profile

Annie Farrell

James Madison University
Writing, Rhetoric & Techincal Communications

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