Student jobs at university

Author
Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
Posted
January, 2017

Having a job while you study will build your skills, give you real examples to draw on in interviews and boost your bank balance

Jobs on campus

There may be no need to look beyond your university as job opportunities exist in the following areas:

  • Admin assistant - Photocopying, filing, data entry, paying invoices and booking travel are just some of the tasks you could be doing.
  • Library worker - Involves dealing with general queries from users, reshelving returned items and keeping the shelves tidy.
  • Hospitality staff - Most students' unions have shops, bars and cafes that all need running with shift work making it easy to fit around your studies.
  • Student ambassador - It's your job to promote the university through open days, presentations and practical activities both inside and outside the university. Sometimes called a brand manager, you could also work for an organisation to raise their profile on campus and improve recruitment.
  • Teaching assistantship - These see PhD students receive financial support and training in return for six to eight hours per week of leading classes, hosting tutorials, marking papers and giving lab demonstrations. To find out more, see scholarships and bursaries.

Vacancies are generally available throughout the year, with peaks in key recruitment months for roles such as student ambassador. Most work will be during term time but double check as you may be expected to do some work in the holidays.

You should head to your student job shop as it will have a list of everything that's on offer throughout the university. If you want to work in a certain department contact them directly and see what's available. There may also be a mailing list you can join so that opportunities get sent straight to you. For most roles you'll need to email your CV and sometimes a cover letter explaining why you want the job and what you can offer. Get tips on writing a successful CV and cover letter.

Part-time work

As university fees rise and funding becomes sparse, many students have no choice but to take on part-time jobs. Not only does this keep your bank balance in the black, it gives you a taste of working life and improves skills such as time management, organisation and teamwork.

Most universities recommend working no more than 10 to 15 hours a week during term time. However, not every institution permits it, so it’s advisable to check with your university before looking for a part-time job.

If you're not a UK or EEA-domiciled student, there may be restrictions on the number of hours you're allowed to work. For more information, visit UKCISA - Working in the UK during your studies or your careers service.

You'll be paid at least the National Minimum Wage of £6.95 if you're aged between 21 and 24 years old, rising to £7.20 if you're 25 and over. In order to qualify for benefits such as the state pension you'll need to pay National Insurance, and a National Insurance Number is required to do this.

You could do bar work, wait tables, work in retail or do promotion work. To see what's available you should visit your careers service or student job shop. You could also head directly to the company, see what they have on offer and hand in your CV.

Alternatively you can also search:

Think about how the job you're doing can be linked to your career aspirations. For example, experience of working in a kitchen can be useful if you want to be a chef, while working front of house in a hotel could be helpful if you plan to work in the tourism and hospitality industry. Whether your part-time job is relevant or not, it can still add value to your CV. If the experience is recent or it helped you to gain useful transferable skills that you can use in future positions then it might be a good idea to mention it on your CV. If your part-time work experience is years old and bears no relevance to the job you're applying for then leave it off your CV.

Christmas jobs

If you don't want to work alongside your studies then the Christmas break is a great time to get a job. It's also useful if you're returning home and only need something short term.

The obvious areas are retail and hospitality as both will be busy over the festive season and need more short-term staff than usual. Most vacancies will be advertised, but if you can't find anything it's still worth calling in to see if there are any jobs available. You'll need to start applying early to mid-November with an up-to-date CV. This will allow for the interview process and any training to take place.

Then there's companies like Royal Mail that offer full and part-time indoor sorting positions on various shifts from early November until December 23 across the UK. There will also be warehouse positions to help organisations such as Amazon meet the extra demand over the Christmas period.