Student jobs at university

Jemma Smith, Editor
August, 2021

Most students, at some point, will need to work alongside their studies. Working while studying has a number of benefits - as well as boosting your finances, student jobs build your skillset and provide real examples to use in interviews

Tuition fees are expensive, funding isn't always available and when it is you're usually left with a hefty student debt. Unsurprisingly, many students have no choice but to take on part-time jobs to help lessen the financial burden of university study.

During term time, institutions recommend working no more than 20 hours to ensure that your studies aren't negatively affected. International students should check they have the right to work in the UK while studying, and if so ensure that the number of hours they work don't exceed those stated in their visa.

Jobs on campus

If you're looking to earn some extra cash, there may be no need to look beyond your institution. University jobs for students, also known as campus jobs, 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.
  • IT support - Involves working part time to provide technical support for halls of residence or particular departments.
  • Hospitality staff - Most students' unions have shops, bars and cafés that all need running with shift work, making it easy to fit around your studies.
  • Resident assistant - Requires you to be a live-in supervisor in your halls of residence. You'll be the first port of call if students have an issue with their living quarters, acting as the middleman between student housing and students.
  • Library worker - Involves dealing with general queries from users, reshelving returned items and keeping the shelves tidy.
  • 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.
  • Student content creator - Some institutions employ students to create content for university platforms such as websites and social channels. This content could be in the form of blogs, vlogs, articles and videos.
  • 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 appear 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 at your institution. If you want to work in a certain department, contact them directly to 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 cover letter explaining why you want the job and what you can offer.

This Prospects webinar aired September 2021.

Part-time work

Working part time keeps your bank balance in the black and gives you a taste of working life. It improves skills such as time management, organisation, leadership and teamwork too.

However, not every institution will permit you to work alongside your studies so check with your university before looking for part-time opportunities and learn how to balance work and study. 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 - Tier 4 work.

From April 2023, you'll be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) of £7.49 per hour if you're aged between 18 and 20, rising to £10.18 if you're between 21 and 22. Those aged 23 and over will get the National Living Wage (NLW) of £10.42. 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
  • become a mystery shopper
  • take up an office job
  • do promotion work.

To see what's available, visit your careers service or student job shop. You could also contact companies speculatively to 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, working front of house in a hotel could be helpful if you plan to work in the tourism and hospitality sector and a part-time student job in retail could be useful if you want to break into the fashion 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 but still need some extra cash then use the holiday periods to your advantage. The Christmas break is a great time to get a job. Retail and hospitality organisations are busier than usual over the festive season and often recruit short-term staff, known as temps, to cope with demand. This type of work is also useful if you're returning home and only need something for the short term.

Most vacancies will be advertised, but if you're looking for a job at a particular company and can't find anything, it's 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.

It's also a good idea to think outside the box at this time of year, as many organisations need some extra help. Companies like Royal Mail offer full and part-time indoor sorting positions from early November until 23 December across the UK, while warehouse positions are available to help organisations such as Amazon meet the demands of Christmas shoppers. If you don't mind a bit of fancy dress, why not consider helping out in a Santa's grotto?

To find inspiration for the warmer months, see summer jobs.

This type of work experience looks great on your CV, provides first-hand knowledge of a particular job or industry, boosts your skillset and provides you with a network of contacts. If opportunities are paid, they provide the extra bonus of helping out financially.

Search for internships and to find out more about available opportunities, see internships.

Find out more

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