I have currently completed 4.5 years of my 5.5-year program for a BS in Computer Information Systems (programming) in Florida. Last summer, I was able to work at the Info Tech department as a web programmer. I was clearly wanted back, and will be working for the next couple of interterm weeks as well as expecting to be there next summer.
College policy is very rigid towards students; any work assignment is considered a privilege and warrants minimum wage. For me, that was great last summer, as my job was an internship that allowed getting my feet wet. However, my director technically has the right to force me to work during the semester, which worries me, because I don't think the tiredness and potential for low grades is worth the meager benefits. But by refusing, I could be prevented from ever working there again.
Because I am a Canadian student in the United States, my only right to work is at the institution where I study. My wife is getting US citizenship, so I may be able to get a visa in the future, but not in time for this coming summer. There is also the option of getting OPT (optional practical training), but because junior developers are an investment for a company, they don't like hiring people who are planning to leave.
Working as a developer, even junior, for $8-9 seems like selling myself out cheaply. Policy forces me to be paid the same thing as those students who are mowing the lawn or staffing the library. However, I may not be able to find a position elsewhere in Pensacola suitable to my other life considerations.
A friend of mine recently graduated and came to IT as staff, earning a lot more with less experience. People frequently leave IT. It seems to the director's advantage to grant me a higher salary. However, I doubt his power to do so, except for creating some arrangement where I temporarily became staff without having my degree yet (this, I know from inside information, has been done before).
I do not know whether the risk of having no job at college this summer outweighs the benefit of earning a more reasonable pay. Working there in a sense enables me to further my education; but the pay, I find, reflects poorly on my knowledge and experience.
How can I best ask for the raise while increasing my chances of staying to work there?
Part of my misgiving stems from the possibility of being required to work during term. Per suggested advice, I do not plan to threaten to leave, but have found a response that party solves the problem:
Will you work at IT during the semester?
Let me counter that with a proposition: will you increase my pay?
After which this is a yes-yes no-no situation.