"Employment" is work performed in exchange for compensation. Compensation can include money, room and board, or other significant benefits. Before accepting any kind of employment, be sure it is allowed by the F-1 regulations. Note that the off-campus employment opportunities generally require you to have completed one academic year (three quarters) to be eligible to apply for authorization. Consult an ISSS adviser with any questions related to F-1 status and employment.
For general introductory information regarding F-1 and J-1 employment please view the ISSS international student employment presentation.