Six Ways to Spend Time Between Classes on Campus

Lab just got out and you have a few hours before your next class. You sit for a minute, check Instagram, think about going home— but no, you think there has to be something fun to do on campus. Well, wonder no longer!

Here are six of the best ways to spend time on campus:


1. The Viking Game Room

Need to kill some time? A place to unwind? How about a game of pool or bowling? (Yes, we have a bowling alley, and yes, it’s awesome.)

Located in the basement of the Smith Memorial Student Union, the Viking Game Room is open everyday of the week and offers a great place for students to relax and have fun.

2. Campus Rec

Wanna work up a sweat? Campus Rec has you covered with everything from a gym full of modern workout equipment to multiple climbing walls and even a full-size swimming pool.

Access to Campus Rec is included in your student fees and the multi-story facility is located conviently in the heart of campus.

Feeling competitive? Try PSU’s many rec clubs or intramural sports! With activities ranging from rugby to dodgeball to tango dancing there is sure to be something for everyone.

3. 5th Avenue Cinema

Ok, so maybe you’re still sore from going to Campus Rec the day before and want to take it easy. No problem. Did you know that right on PSU’s campus there is a student-run movie theater that’s free for students?

The 5th Avenue Cinema is Oregon’s only student-run cinema and presents international and domestic cinema year-round. If you weren’t sold already, just know that there is FREE POPCORN at every showing.

Check the screening schedule and other special events.

4. Portland Farmer’s Market

On campus on a saturday? Want to try some of the best food you’ve ever had? Well, you’re in luck because the Portland Farmer’s Market sets up shop right on PSU’s Park Blocks. Get ready to taste some of the most delicious produce you’ll ever eat.

Over 140 vendors come every saturday to sell their wares and every market includes chef demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes, live music and a lineup of food education events. It is not to be missed.

Plus, there’s plenty of free samples, if that’s what you’re into. (And let’s be real, who isn’t.)

5. Live at Lunch Concert Series

Portland is a town that revels in its unique music scene, so it would be remiss if PSU didn’t invite some of that amazing music to perform on campus. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-1pm, Live at Lunch presents live music on the PSU Park Blocks (inside SMSU if it’s raining).

With a new artist and musical style at every performance, Live at Lunch brings amazing free concerts to campus that everyone can enjoy.

Check out the lineup for this Spring on the PSU Professional Sound Facebook page.

6. Snag a Quick Bite

20+ food carts, local restaurants and more variety than you can shake a stick at, the truly unique food on campus represent the vibrancy that is Portland’s culinary culture.

Whether it’s Bowery Bagels in the Student Union, Coco Donuts at the Karl Miller Center or pad thai at the food carts across from the Engineering Building, campus has anything you could want to scratch that edible itch.


Now you have no excuse to be bored on campus.

And if you’re still bored, get an on-campus job!

5 Reasons You Should get an On-Campus Job

With classes, homework and extracurriculars, it might seem like college is too busy to have a part-time job. However, most jobs on campus are built to work alongside your school schedule, and can be an amazing opportunity to build your resume, gain professional references, and of course, make a little extra money for coffee, donuts and pizza. You know, essentials.

Here’s our top five reasons you should consider getting an on-campus job:


1. A school-friendly schedule

Campus employers understand that you are a student first and an employee second. This means that they are flexible, making sure that you aren’t working during classes or on especially busy weeks like midterms or finals.

2. Opportunity for relevant experience

There are lots of opportunities for students to work on-campus in organizations that reflect their interests. Criminal Justice major? Campus Public Safety is hiring. Health Studies? The Rec Center is almost entirely staffed by students. Qualified students can even become tutors, helping their fellow students in disciplines ranging from math to music.

3. Build a competitive resume

Having a part-time job during your undergrad is a great way to boost your resume and make your job search easier after graduation, especially if you worked with a department that shared your interests.

4. Gain professional references

Both your co-workers and supervisors can be great references for internships and careers after graduation. On-campus employers want to see you succeed, and are happy to help you realize your passions in any way they can.

5. Make good money

And, of course, having a part-time job means making extra money which you can put towards school…or, alternatively, more fun things. A relaxing trip to the coast perhaps? Maybe seats at Blazers game?


If you’re ready to see what part-time (and it will always be part-time, students are limited to 20 hours per week for on-campus jobs) opportunities are available on campus, visit Advising and Career Services, where a team of trained experts can help you land that perfect position!

Remember that an on-campus job is not the same as a Work Study Award. For more information on Work Study, visit the Office of Financial Aid.

“The grass was literally greener”

“I wanted something completely different, to embrace change rather than run from it.”

Jasmin Landa, a senior Business and Management Leadership major from Reno, Nevada, saw in Portland State something exotic.

“It was just so different than anything I had ever experienced. The people are nice, the perspectives more diverse, and, I mean, the grass was literally greener. I can’t see myself living anywhere else anymore.”

Jasmin hit the ground running, spending almost her entire freshman year exploring campus and getting involved.

“I spent so little time in my dorm room. I wanted to see everything, to really get close to the community here. I spent a lot of time at Campus Rec and at the Smith Student Union just talking to people and finding out everything campus had to offer.”

She found quite a lot. Jasmin seems to have a part of almost every aspect of campus life. She plays club-level volleyball for PSU, works for both Portland State University Communications and PSU’s Center Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and sits on the student-run Organization Budget Council, which helps facilitate student clubs and events.   

Jasmin is also the recipient of a Diversity Scholarship and other financial aid. “I knew that my mom couldn’t support me, and that I would be on my own as far as paying for college.” Nearly 70% of PSU students are using some sort of financial aid.

“At first I was hesitant to apply for a Diversity Scholarship, but eventually I decided that I needed to own my story, to be true to myself and my experiences. I’m very self-motivated in that way.”

That motivation has allowed her to expand her learning outside of the classroom. Her work with SHAC has helped her gain skills that can extend far beyond graduation.

“I do a lot of work with the food security initiatives on campus, things like Harvest Share and the Food Pantry, two amazing resources for students who may not have good access to healthy, fresh food.”

“I also help advocate for SHAC, and how it’s not just a wellness center. We have specialists, everyone from dentists to doctors to therapists. Our goal is healthy students, however that is achieved.”

As someone who wants to one day start her own business, the interpersonal and organizational skills she has gained from all of her campus activities are preparing her for life after graduation.

“I am making really good connections through all of the things I’m involved with, and people are able to turn me on to a lot of amazing potential opportunities, especially since I want to stay in Portland.”

Jasmin’s advice to students coming to campus for the first time this Fall?

“I think it’s all about exploring campus. Go into every building, read every flyer, talk to everyone you meet. There are so many things to get involved in that I promise you will find something to be passionate about as long as you get out and discover it.”

Learn more about SHAC!

Learn more about Diversity Scholarships!

Jasmin Landa

Journeys and Destinations

The circuitous route is sometimes the most enlightening.

“There were times when I had a lot of doubt, times when I thought I’d never get to the point where I could graduate. Looking back now everything looks so different.”

Franky Martin, a senior Graphic Design major from Salem, Oregon, will finally, after eleven years bouncing from college to college, job to job, walk the commencement stage and be rewarded with his Bachelor’s degree.

“Getting my bachelors was always at the back of my mind. It was always the goal,” but the route to that goal wasn’t always so clear.

Franky initially started at a private college in Oregon, but left after finding that it didn’t mesh well with his own personality. “It was small, rural, expensive— it just wasn’t for me. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity.”

Opportunity is something Franky finds at PSU in spades. “The engagement here, with PSU, with the city, is so amazing. The creative community is big and really receptive to student involvement.”

Portland’s urban environment was something that was always alluring to Franky. After leaving his first college, Franky started taking classes at Chemeketa Community College in his hometown of Salem, but all the while he was there the opportunities in Portland beckoned.

“At Chemeketa, all of my graphic design professors kept saying that the place to study in Oregon was PSU.” Before Franky transferred, he was able to speak with graphic design faculty at PSU, who helped him in the transition.

“Everyone here— the professors, faculty, even my peers— are so invested in my success. They really do care about my growth not only as a student but also as a person. Everyone seemed excited to help and get to know me.”

Franky’s professors have been able to put him in touch with graphic design professionals all over Portland who are helping him gain the skills and connections he needs to land a job after graduation.

“I helped with the design for Design Week in Portland this year, and there is no way I would have gotten that opportunity without my professors looking out for me.”

The professors in Franky’s program also bring in industry professionals nearly every week, and students have the opportunity to speak candidly with them about what is important to their growth and success in the industry.

“Looking at where I am now it’s hard to believe I ever thought I couldn’t get here. It’s kind of surreal.”

As surreal as it may seem, Franky’s success in the program (he was part of the winning Adobe Creative Jam this year, an event where PSU Graphic Design students have a limited time to create a unique piece of graphic art) is indicative of how easily PSU students are able to gain the skills the need to land a job post graduation.

“Oh yeah, I feel more than prepared. I’ve grown not just in my technical skill but as a person too. I’ve gained so much confidence, more than I’d ever thought I could have.”

Franky’s advice to new students?

“Really get to know the faculty in your department. They’re advocates for you, allies, and the people who can help you in good times and bad.”

Franky attributes a lot of his success to the mentorship of his professors. However, it is his own hard work that will shine brightest as he gets his diploma. When he does eventually leave campus to make his mark on the world, he isn’t seeing it as a door closing.

“It’s less of a journey ending for me as a whole new path opening up.”

Learn more about PSU graduates and student success!

See where alums are working now!

Franky Martin

A Place for Adventure

While PSU is definitely an urban campus, that does not mean that we vikings aren’t all about getting into nature. Wanna go to the coast? Sure, it’s just 90 minutes away. The mountains? Go hiking around Mt. Hood or in the Columbia Gorge. Feeling aquatic? Paddle out onto the nearby Willamette or Columbia Rivers.

“I love the access PSU has to wild spaces. It was one of the big reasons I wanted to come here,” says Jacob McCoola, a second-year graduate student in the Leadership and Sustainability Education program.

“Portland was the perfect fit for me. I had always wanted to live in a big city, and not only did Portland seems like a very cool place to live, culturally, but it had such unique closeness to the outdoors.”

Jacob, who spent two years as a naturalist in Colorado and has an intense fondness for outdoor education, is able to complement his degree program (the only one of its kind in Oregon) by working with PSU’s Outdoor Program.

The Outdoor Program, which is in its 50th year, is a resource center aimed at getting students into the outdoors by offering day hikes, weekend camping trips, rock climbing excursions, and much more, all of which are led by students.  

“It feels like half of my education has come from working with the Outdoor Program.” Jacob wants to continue using the skills he is gaining through the Program into life after college as an outdoor and sustainability educator.

“It’s the oldest university outdoor program in the country.” Jacob is not only an Outdoor Program Trip Leader, guiding students through explorations of the outdoors, but also the Program’s Outreach Coordinator.

“Being a trip leader is an amazing experience, and really helps students, myself included, gain leadership and management skills.” Any student, regardless of major can become a trip leader by completing the Outdoor Program’s Wilderness Leadership Development program (WiLD). “We get trip leaders from all over the university. We’ve had environmental science majors, linguistics majors, music majors. Anyone with a passion for the outdoors can do it.”

This inclusivity doesn’t only extend to the staff at the Outdoor Program.

The Program isn’t just for students who have experience in the outdoors, but for students seeking to learn new skills, broaden their knowledge of being outside and get to know their fellow students.

“We strive to make our trips and events accessible for all students, regardless of ability.” The Program often collaborates with the Disability Resource Center on campus to find ways to include all types of students in Outdoor Program trips.

“We recently had an awesome paddle boarding event out on the coast that we designed so that it would be inclusive for students with disabilities. It was great and everyone had an amazing time.”  

Jacob’s advice for students who want to make use of the Outdoor Program is simple.

“Come on a trip, any trip! I can’t think of a better way to meet people and form a real sense of camaraderie. Plus, it’s an adventure, and who doesn’t want that?”

Check out the Outdoor Program trip schedule!

Learn how to become a Trip Leader!

PSU is a Place for Community

The comfort that comes from a welcoming and accessible campus can make all the difference. If certain campus resources are offered, like those that help students graduate, it can make the task of choosing a college much easier.

Such was the case for Grace Piper, a senior Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major from Hillsboro, OR.

Portland State was a really easy decision for me.” Grace had grown up around Portland and knew about the resources and opportunities PSU offers, but there was one thing in particular that helped them decide.

“What ultimately drove me to PSU was that it was listed in the top 25 most LGBT friendly college campuses when I was applying back in 2012/2013. This year I think we actually moved into the top 10, which is really cool and important!”

Once on campus, Grace found the Queer Resource Center, a support resource for students along the sexuality and gender spectra. “The QRC was on my radar early on.” QRC events helped Grace get acclimated to campus life and surrounded them with a community that understood where they were coming from.

“At first, I felt pretty shy and nervous. I remember coming into the QRC, looking around and quickly leaving. Eventually, though, I felt comfortable hanging out more and coming to events. I have made my best friends through the QRC.”

Now Grace helps to support the QRC by acting as their Marketing Coordinator. “I first got involved after helping plan Pride Month freshman year and have been working here since.” Grace also helps plan QRC events on campus that bring students who are feeling marginalized into a safe, welcoming environment.

“I helped plan the Queer Students of Color Conference this year. Pride Month, too, which happens throughout the month of May and leads us into the city’s celebration of Pride.” The Queer Students of Color Conference (QSOCC) especially represents the broad outreach that the QRC takes on, reaching out to student populations that may feel excluded or without representation.

All students, regardless of sexual or gender identity, can utilize the services of the QRC, which gets over 3,000 visits a year.

Grace’s university outreach doesn’t just extend to the QRC, they are also a University Studies Peer Mentor, leading the Health, Happiness, and Human Rights Freshman Inquiry course.

“It has been a really cool opportunity for me. I want to go into education and advocacy work, so this position has given me a lot of experience in teaching and curriculum development.”

All of these experiences are helping Grace gain the skills they need for life after graduation. “If I can, I want to work somewhere focusing on queer and trans and/or communities of color, which pairs really well with my campus experiences.”

Grace’s advice to new students?

“Seek community. Being marginalized makes completing your degree harder, so exploring the resources available to you is really important for support and making friends. Put yourself out there to find where you feel comfortable.”

Learn more about the QRC and find more LGBTQ resources on campus.

Resource Breakdown: Writing Center

“It’s all about setting up a relationship with students,” says Lucas Bernhardt, sitting in his office at the PSU Writing Center.

He has to whisper, since a student is being helped out at one of the tables in the comfortable and quiet room. “We want to be an ally.”  

Lucas, the Center’s Office Manager, helps facilitate the Writing Center, which is an accessible and individualized support environment for students needing to improve their writing. “Hopefully, as students leave the center, their confidence in their own writing has gone up.”

So who can use the Writing Center? Everybody.

Having trouble writing for a class? Come to the Writing Center. Wondering how to cite work? Drop on by. Questions about the Oxford comma? Come early and often.

There is no question or concern too small, and the combination of adjunct staff and student workers (all of whom are Master’s candidates in English or Writing) will provide personalized, expert guidance on how to improve any aspect of writing.

“When students come in with questions, we are less interested in fixing the short term problems. Rather, we want to help students gain writing skills that they can take with them beyond college, into the rest of their lives.”

This approach seems to be working. Lucas has noticed that many students have become repeat visitors, growing as writers with every visit. The Writing Center is an especially valuable resource to international students and those for whom English is not a primary language, they make up more than half of the students who come into the Center.

“We collaborate a lot with English as a Second Language professionals all over the city to help people improve their writing,” Lucas says.

Students can make appointments to visit the Center or arrive during drop-in hours, with writing consultants who are professionally-trained in academic writing. A typical Writing Center session involves a student bringing in a piece of writing that they feel needs improvement, and their writing center consultant attempts to identify and fix the most pressing problem.

“It’s a varied approach. There are so many talented people working here, all with different backgrounds, so you’re going to be paired up with someone who can provide insightful and relevant feedback.”

Although the immediate goal of the Center is to solve writing issues, the end goal is creating stronger students. The best way to do that, Lucas says, is to be proactive.

“Come in early, earlier than you think you need to. We are always here to help, and we can support you more if you come in as you notice problems arising. Your goals are the same as ours, making your writing stronger.”

Learn more about the Writing Center and other resources for students who want to improve their writing.

Support to Help Stand Out

At first, Devyn Yan Radke, a sophomore English major from Portland, Oregon and graduate of Parkrose High School, was unsure about whether or not she wanted to attend college.

“I was worried that I would get lost in the crowd and that I wouldn’t be able to meet people and make friends.”

Looking back now, those anxieties seem so far away. Devyn is a Student Ambassador for the University, helping promote PSU to prospective students and acting as a resource for new students. Next year Devyn is also going to be a Peer Mentor for the Freshman Inquiry courses within the University Studies program, helping ease the transition to college for a new generation of first-generation students.

So what changed?

“I realized how much of a community PSU really is. Everybody is there to help with anything you need. It was all so open.”

Part of what helped Devyn acclimate to life on campus was the plentiful resources available to students. “What really helped were things like the Writing Center and Learning Center. I use both and they really help me do well in class.”

Devyn gets a lot of support from her department as well. “Everyone in the English department was so easy to talk to and all my professors have been really open and encouraging.” Her favorite professor?

“Sarah Ensor for sure.” A past recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teaching Award, Ensor teaches literature in the English department. “Not only is she a great teacher but I feel like I can always ask for for help in and out of class.”

Devyn is also a scholarship recipient in the EMPOWER program, a community for first-generation, Asian and Pacific Islander students coming to college for the first time. “The support groups here on campus really highlight how excited people are about getting kids through college and into careers where they can make meaningful impacts in their community.” Devyn will be providing that same kind of support as she is going to be a Mentor in the program, an opportunity she found out about through the Department of Multicultural Student Services.

Where Devyn is now, it’s hard to believe that she was ever apprehensive about going to college. “I have always considered myself an introvert, so programs like Student Ambassadors and being a Peer Mentor has brought out my leadership and communication skills.”

Her advice to students who are experiencing anxiety about going to college?

“Come in with an open mind and really try to get involved. Everyone is super friendly and wants you to join the community here.”

Sign up for a Campus Tour and discover the community on campus.

Passions Find a Home in Portland

It’s all about finding your niche. Where you fit in, what you like, what you don’t. Discovering where you can thrive can radiate throughout your college life and out into your career.

“Getting involved and recognizing all the opportunities around you makes all the difference,” says Vineta Gleba, a Ukrainian-born, Beaverton-raised, junior majoring in Marketing. “Knowing what’s around and taking advantage of it means everything.”

That is part of the reason Vineta chose PSU to begin with. “I knew it had a really good business school. Plus, having it be right in the city meant that there would be all sorts of opportunities for me to get in contact with the community.”

Through the College of Business, Vineta has been able to meet with and tour several of the national organizations that call Portland home, like international ad giant Wieden + Kennedy.

Through the College and Business and the Honors College, Vineta was also able to complete an Internship abroad in Panama with Kalu Yala, a sustainable housing non-profit focused on building homes in the developing world.

She is also getting to meet with professionals at Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, through the Athletic and Outdoor Connect program within the College of Business. “I’m really into sports and physical activity, so it was great to meet with companies that shared my interests and with whom I could network.”

Vineta is also able to merge her passions for business and marketing with sports with her job at Campus Rec. “I do Marketing and Outreach so it really combines my interests.” Vineta helps students by promoting Campus Rec at resource fairs and by helping facilitate and represent Campus Rec events like PRIDE Kickball and Cornhole in the Plaza.

“I want students to know that Campus Rec is an amazing resource available to them, and that it’s included in their student fees.”

Vineta’s work with Campus Rec is helping her gain the skills she needs to pursue a career in business and marketing after she graduates. “I want to work for organizations that are interested in helping the developing world navigate environmental and social issues.”

That goal is enhanced by the Certificate in Social Innovation that she is getting from the College of Business in addition to her degree in Marketing.

“Being able to meet with companies in Portland, my job at Campus Rec and the innovative Business degree program are all giving me the skills that can help land an amazing job after I graduate.”

Vineta’s advice for students?

“Take advantage of all the incredible resources on campus. Discover your passions and surround yourself with people who love what you love. Especially Campus Rec, although I might be a little biased.”

Check out all the amazing programs and resources at Campus Rec that are included with your student fees.

Check out Vineta’s Blog and YouTube channel!

Accessibility Meets Opportunity

The benefits of experience cannot be undervalued. Those who seek out the avenues to build their skillset are able to venture into the world prepared to make the biggest impact, a fact which Justin Orendorff, a junior Liberal Studies major from Canby, Oregon, understands.

“I want to learn as much as I can so that I can do something great after I graduate.” Justin aspires to be an author and to go onto graduate programs in creative writing, so it made perfect sense that he would get involved with Ooligan Press, the PSU student-run book publishing house on campus.

Couched within the Master of Fine Arts in Book Publishing program, Ooligan affords both undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to get hands-on professional experience with book publishing.

“I don’t think I could have gotten those kinds of experiences and skills at another university, not like this.” And Justin’s right. No other school in Oregon offers undergraduate students the chance to work on books that will actually go onto store shelves the way PSU does.

“It’s invaluable to see the process, especially since I want to be an author.” What’s more is that students participate with Ooligan as a class, so they get credits they can use towards graduation.

What’s especially unique about Ooligan Press, and PSU student groups at large, is that students don’t need to be in a specific major to participate.

“I’m a Liberal Studies major, so I take classes in sciences and education, but Ooligan, which I thought was only for English majors, was excited when I asked about joining. My major didn’t matter, they just wanted me to grow.”  

The ability for undergraduate students to get professional experiences while still in school is not only limited to Ooligan. Every major has ways for students to get involved with community or research projects, all of which are enhanced by the vibrant Portland geography.

Justin transferred to PSU from another Oregon university that was in a much smaller town.

“It definitely didn’t have the same resources and opportunities as Portland. Plus, I love that the campus is right downtown. It makes everything so accessible.”

That accessibility is playing into Justin’s project at Ooligan, where he is helping to organize the annual Write to Publish conference where authors can learn the ins and outs of getting published. “Since I want to be published one day it’s a perfect fit.”

Taking on community projects and hands-on skills during undergrad can have impacts that ripple out through a student’s life, and the staff and faculty at PSU are excited to facilitate students’ in their efforts serve Portland.

Learn about ways PSU undergraduates gain professional skills and interact with the city.