With maintenance grants being scrapped, the loans available shrinking, and accommodation prices rising along with the cost of living, students are struggling to budget as the austere 2010s rumble on.
Getting a student job is an increasingly attractive option, and there are plenty of options available to you:
The most common jobs for students include working in bars, pubs, restaurants, and shops. These are often advertised online but also look for adverts in shop windows on the high street. Take a CV and cover letter into the place in person and be alert, just in case you see the manager and have the chance to make a good impression even before you’re invited to interview.
Seasonal work can fit into your holidays, such as summer jobs (especially in tourism and the summer sales) and work at Christmas as shops take on extra staff to deal with the rush. If you impress, these places may bear you in mind for more work next season, or a full-time job once you’ve finished and need a proper wage.
Local bars and clubs often hire students, even if it’s just as glass-collectors. They will be used to their employees needing to be flexible and take time off around exams, and (hopefully!) be more cooperative if you need to sort your hours out. You can get to know the local scene and hear where other jobs might be coming up, and if you can deal with rowdy bar customers you might be stellar in the boardroom later on!
The students’ union may be the best option for this kind of job. As an employer you can’t get one more understanding of the demands of student life, and the hours are flexible and not excessive. Usually you can sign up for shifts when you’re free, so work won’t clash with deadlines or *cough* important parties *cough*.
Finally, you could be a campus brand ambassador. You’ll work on specific campaigns, promoting a particular brand by dispensing freebies and giving people information, selling them the brand. This is flexible part-time work with big employers and the opportunity to gain some teamwork experience. OnCampus Promotions offers this kind of work, and you should check the websites of individual companies like EY, Red Bull or the i.
Just be careful where you apply! There are some odd and ridiculous jobs out there.
Before you jump onto jobsites and start searching, think carefully about the commitment of taking on a part-time job. Don’t be fooled if you find yourself with few contact hours, as you will still be expected to spend a great deal of time studying independently, preparing for seminars and completing coursework. Work out how much time you’re expected to spend on this and look for a job that won’t take up your study time.
You should also look for flexible hours. If you have a crucial deadline coming up, it will be extremely useful if you can swap shifts and take days off to get it done (often you may be able to work in lieu after the hand-in date).
Look for jobs that you can easily get to, whether you walk, use public transport or drive. Your degree is not the time for a long commute, unless you can get your seminar reading or lab reports done en route – and the money makes it worth it.
The benefits of taking up a student job go much further than earning money, of course. If you work in a bar or restaurant or in retail, the skills you gain will transfer to most graduate jobs. Interacting face-to-face with the public improves you communication skills, as does answering the phone and dealing with complaints. You’ll develop commercial awareness.
You may have a fair bit of problem-solving to do, which will become very useful, and have to adapt to new ways of working and dealing with people, which enhances your interpersonal skills. Whichever job you find yourself in, you will quickly get better at time management as you balance your work with coursework and socialising, and gain experience of working within a team.
One of the most flexible ways of working is, of course, working for yourself. Using your skills to make money keeps everything on your terms, and you only need to take on as much as you can handle. Try private tutoring – advertise locally and look through resources online for advice and teaching material.
If you play an instrument, you could offer lessons, and advertise your talents for weddings and other events. It is very satisfying earning money doing something you already know and enjoy.
If money isn’t an issue, or you aren’t able to take on the commitment of a job at the moment, volunteering is another good way of gaining work experience, and may lead onto a job or help you get one once you’ve graduated. Look for local one-off projects or a short-term weekly commitment. If you live near a theatre or arts centre, they may hire volunteer stewards to collect tickets and sell merchandise, in return for getting to see the performance. This is a way to get your cultural fix for free, and some may even offer occasional paid shifts.
Working as a student will set you in good stead for your career, equipping you with transferable skills and valuable life experience. There are plenty of ways to make money while you learn, even if it’s only outside term time, so it’s worth considering what you could do.