Getting a job during the university holidays is a great way to boost your career prospects and earn some extra cash. Find out where to look for opportunities and how to apply

The majority of students will take up some form of full or part-time employment in order to give them a better standard of living at university. However, if you are not a UK or EEA domiciled student, there may be restrictions on the number of hours per week you are allowed to work during the holidays.

If you are unsure about your entitlement to work whilst on your course, visit UKCISA: UK Council for International Student Affairs - Working in the UK during your studies or talk to a careers adviser.

Where can I get a job?

As some businesses become busier around Christmas, Easter and the summer, they will require more staff, resulting in vacation work being easier to find.

For example if you want to work in the hospitality industry then finding vacation work at a seaside hotel during the summer is a good idea, similarly if you want to work within retail the Christmas holidays are the perfect time to look temporary shop work.

You should visit your careers service or university job shop to see what on-campus opportunities are available to current students. You can also try:

  • Student-Jobs - part-time work along with holiday, gap year and graduate jobs.
  • Jobcentre Plus - thousands of jobs and volunteering opportunities.
  • Fish4jobs - covers temporary and seasonal vacancies and international opportunities.

Law vacation schemes

In some sectors, such as law, vacation work is necessary to improve your employability. Doing a vacation scheme with a large firm or government organisation gives you the opportunity to develop new skills and demonstrate your potential to the firm. These schemes can also form part of the selection process for training contracts.

To find a vacation scheme in your area, search for law vacation placements.

How do I apply for vacation work?

You will have to write a successful job application and attend an interview although it is likely to be less competitive than applying for a permanent job. If you will be looking after young or vulnerable people, for example helping in a summer playgroup, you will need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service check as well.

Wages are often paid monthly, sometimes weekly and are worked out by an hourly rate. Depending on your chosen role, subsidised travel and lunches and attendance at in-house training courses may also be part of the benefits.

Once you have secured vacation work, make sure that you are given a written contract, detailing the terms and conditions of your employment. If you do not receive one, then ask.

Not necessarily. As they say, any work experience is good experience. Obviously if the opportunity to gain some experience relevant to your course or future career presents itself, don’t turn it down but generally any kind of vacation work, no matter what form it takes, will add value to your CV and show employers how dedicated and hard working you are.

Bar shifts, hospitality work, shop work or sports coaching will all help you to gain key transferable skills such as communication, team working and problem solving ability, which could set you apart from other candidates in the future.

Will it help my career?

The benefits of vacation work can include:

  • a healthier bank balance;
  • increased organisational skills;
  • development of people management skills;
  • the chance to get to grips with day-to-day working life.

You will also have gained an employer referee for your CV, when the time comes to apply for graduate positions.

Most vacation work does not attract academic credits, but the chance to learn valuable interpersonal skills will be useful in any career. For some courses, vacation work (in the form of work placements) will be compulsory and therefore formally assessed or accredited. Assessments vary and might include the completion of specific tasks or projects, writing a report or reflective log, or using the learning in another assignment or course activity.