9 tips for working part time during university

Apr 21, 2020

In this post, we are going to share top tips on working part time during university. 

Recent stats show that 79% of students worry about money and only 38% say that Student Finance stretches far enough (Student Money Survey 2019). This means that 3 in 4 students now have a part-time job while studying. 

So I know what you’re thinking…

How on earth am I meant to get by at University living on such a tight budget? 

AND 

How do I balance a part-time job with university work? 

Well, if managed carefully, it’s possible to work hard, work part-time and still go out and have fun with your mates.

9 tips for working part-time during university

First thing’s first, let’s set out a few ground rules before you start thinking about what job you should get.

1) Improve your time management skills

Balancing part time work and university work is key.

How much of your day is spent procrastinating when it could be used more efficiently? According to YouGov, the answer to this is 218 minutes, which amasses to a whopping 55 days of procrastinating a year!

graphic for working part time during university - a clock on a desk

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

I’m guilty of spending far too much time swiping through social media when I should really be doing something else. Be more productive with your time! Instil a structure in your day to ensure that you can get everything done.

Tips for managing your time at university

  • Plan your academic work schedule around your deadlines
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique 
  • Write daily to-do lists 
  • Find a dedicated study space
  • Understand what type of learner you are and “study smart” 
  • Focus on your long-term goals to keep you motivated
  • Get help from your lecturers when you need it  
  • Study throughout the term, rather than cramming last minute  

2) Manage your weekly budget effectively

Calculate your living costs to determine how much you need. According to the Guardian, maintenance loans are leaving students £265 short each month. 

Work out what you spend each week and how much of this is covered by your student loan. 

Once you know that, you can work out the difference and start thinking about how you’re going to make it up.

Managing your finances well will put less financial pressure on you whilst studying. It may even allow you to reduce the number of hours you have to work. This will give you more time to spend on your coursework.  

➡️Read: Money saving tips for university students

3) Work no more than 15 hours a week

Any more than 15 extra hours of work a week might start to have an impact on your university work. 

This is definitely not worth the risk, as the whole reason you came to University was to get a good degree, right? 

Putting in boundaries will help you to balance your uni work, social life and your part time job. 

4) Don’t miss lectures

This leads me on to my next tip: Don’t work on shifts that mean you miss your lectures. 

Your studies should always be your number 1 priority. 

Missing a few lectures might not seem like a big deal, but you could miss crucial information about your coursework or exams. 

If you absolutely have to miss a lecture, ask a friend to record the lecture and dedicate some time to catch up. 

Lecturer teaching in a lecture hall

Photo by ICSA from Pexels 

5) Know your deadlines! 

Make sure you’re ready to clear your schedule once deadlines are approaching. 

There’s nothing worse than having a 9 am deadline to work for when you’ve forgotten you’ve got a late-night bar shift as well.

All night-ers are famously heralded by uni students as their go-to for deadlines but you don’t want to make a habit of it.

Now, using the guidelines set in the first bullet points, how about we go and discuss what jobs you can actually do whilst at University.

6) Work for your University- Student Union/Jobs on Campus

Look for roles specifically hiring university students, such as working for the Student Union, or working at your college shop, bar or cafe.

Universities always want work to come first so they will be very flexible with their shifts. And on top of that, you can hang out with your mates while working behind the bar!

Most universities have a student “job shop” so you can have a peruse around there and see if there’s anything you fancy. 

If you’re passionate about your campus, why not be a campus tour guide? This will give you great public speaking practise that will look good on your CV.

Any experience you gain here will also help you stand out from other grads and develop the soft skills that employers are looking for along with your academic credentials.

You could also be a student ambassador where you go and speak to schools to give them an introduction into what life is like at your university. 

You can even get a job calling up university alumni and asking for donations. This is well paid and evening based.  

Extra-Curricular 

Additionally, look for extra-curricular work you can do that might not be paid but would look great on your CV. Volunteering and getting involved in events and activities organised by your student union or the clubs and societies at university offer great opportunities to develop vital skills for the workplace. 

You could also get involved with writing for the student newspaper, hosting a student radio show or promoting membership of the student union.

The founder of graduate coach, Chris Davies, spent University running student union activities and eventually ended up being elected to become the first-ever Student representative on the Board of Governors at his university. 

This taught him invaluable people skills and gave him experience in leading teams and projects. These skills really made his CV stand out and resulted in him becoming the first non-Oxbridge graduate at the advertising agency, J-Walter Thompson.

Essentially, getting involved in as many societies, sports teams and committees as you can give you something to talk about that isn’t solely academia related when you start interviewing after university. 

7) Work flexible roles during term time

Hospitality 

The key is finding a part time job that has a flexible approach to hours and is used to employing lots of students. This might be bar or barista work or working at a restaurant. 

Why not just drop into a few local pubs and see if they’re looking for any more staff? This might be especially relevant around Christmas time when they’re always going to be at their busiest. 

You could also work as a sales associate in retail. The key is that it’s shift work and therefore allows you to opt-in and out as and when you need. 

There are now also apps designed solely for getting work for uni students. Stint launched in 2018 with the idea of instantly connecting employers with an extra pair of hands. These roles are perfectly tailor-made for students as you really can pick and choose when you want to work and you only commit to a shift at a time.

Promote Student Nights

If you’re a very outgoing and sociable person, why not do promotional work for student nights. This normally works by getting a bit of commission per person you get into the club. This is an easy earner and can often just involve adding a bunch of mates to a Facebook page.

Translation Jobs

How about putting your language skills to use? There are plenty of companies offering freelance translation jobs and this would be a great way for those of you that are language students to really practise your skills in the real world and earn money while doing it.

Be an entrepreneur

Uni is a great time to get creative and use that entrepreneurial spirit within you! I started selling vintage clothes online while I was studying (cliche I know!) but you can always use sites such as Depop, MusicMagpie, eBay or Gumtree to start selling items online and earn some extra cash that way.

It’ll be good to show employers you can think outside the box as not many other graduates will be able to evidence this at interviews.

➡️Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing your First Business

8) Get a part time job over Summer 

Summer holidays last forever at University. Sometimes you can finish your last exam in May and not return until the end of September. 

This gives you ample time to ramp up your savings (or wipe off your debt!) for the following year without that constant feeling of guilt that you should be in the library as when working during term time. 

And remember, working doesn’t have to be boring. You could work at festivals, resorts, clubs and all sorts of places in the Summer that you might find tricky to do once the 9-5 grind of adult life kicks in post-University

9) Get some work experience!

One regret of mine is that I never took the time to get some good quality work experience over the holidays. 

It’s often very difficult to work out what area you want to work in once you’ve graduated, but if you get some experience, it will help give you some valuable insights into what you like and what you don’t like as well as put you ahead of other graduates in similar positions when applying for full time jobs after university. 

For example, spring weeks give you a brief induction into what it’s like in your chosen sector. 

These are very common in the financial world. Most of the top investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, offer these.

You can also do insight weeks in insurance (insight week at Lloyds), management consultancy, accountancy or in whatever your chosen field is. PwC offers insight weeks for both consultancy and accountancy.

If you fancy diving deeper, getting a summer internship in one of these industries will prove invaluable on your CV.

Certain companies employ the majority of their grads from those who have already interned with them previously. You’ll also build up great connections which will be very useful once you’ve graduated from University.

And that doesn’t just apply to those of you looking for a career in finance, there are many marketing, retail and sales internships you can do too.

Added bonus: internships are now very often paid! So you can be both learning and earning at once. 

Networking on Linkedin is a great way to meet people and build useful connections that could lead to internships. 

Brand Ambassador

You could also work as a brand ambassador. This could involve tasks such as raising the profile of the brand you work for on social media or attending events and festivals to help with brand promotion. This is especially useful if you’d like to end up in marketing, PR or sales.

Beware though, only get on board if they are willing to pay you minimum wage. Often companies will try and entice you in by offering you lots of perks and freebies without actually paying you a proper wage. This is their way of getting some very cheap labour! 

Red Bull have a student marketeer program where you’ll be responsible for driving and promoting the brand image regionally. 

They offer students flexible hours and provide them with a fun way to increase their sales experience and manage the Red Bull brand. 

You can work at exciting Red Bull events and really engage with customers and help boost your communication skills.

This will give you a great experience and really help when applying for jobs marketing or PR after University.

Volunteering 

If you don’t fancy interning in the corporate world and want to do something a bit outside the box, you could also volunteer abroad.  You could teach English to local children and adults, set up new projects, carry out research, or assist with poverty alleviation programmes. All these will really help make your CV stand out once you’ve graduated!

Summary: Tips for working part time during university

So there you have it, working part time during University isn’t too tricky after all! Furthermore, there are plenty of roles out there!

Look for jobs that will provide you with relevant experience and make you more employable post-university. 

Make sure that the hours are flexible, you organise your time efficiently and you don’t work too much!

Asides from earning money, working part time during university will help you to build a strong work ethic and boost your employability. 

Written by Ollie Jenne

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