Most of you are settling in at uni, either for the first time or returning back after a long summer break. Even with any savings, the purchase of food & books, paying for accommodation and partying for at least 7 days straight over Freshers Week means you are probably already facing the reality of a student loan not stretching very far. Thoughts quickly turn towards possible ways of making extra money and for most peeps this will mean getting a job. Let's take a look at the pro's and con's of working whilst studying and some of the important things YOU need to consider before committing to one.
As a university or college student, it is your responsibility (nobody else’s) to be aware of how much commitment - both lectures and free time - your particular degree requires. Look at your timetable and factor in study time during free periods and work out exactly when & where you can fit in a job. As a general guide, most universities will advise you not to work any more than 15 hours a week on a full-time degree.
As a British student in the UK there are no actual limits on where or how many hours you work but if you are an international student, you need to know any working limitations on your visa. Research these thoroughly before accepting any work to avoid trouble with the law.
Besides the obvious additional income to top-up savings or student loan money, there are huge benefits to working part-time whilst you study. Gaining any type of work experience (bar, retail or promo) will not only look great on your CV to potential employers in future, but will begin to teach you about life in employment, what working for a company entails and the responsibilities that come with it. Being employed means being punctual, working with people from all aspects of life, working as part of a bigger team to achieve a goal, honing your people skills with customers & colleagues and solving problems as and when they arise.
If you can, try to find a job at your university or in your union as these have all the benefits mentioned before but additionally, will help you network on your campus with colleagues and tutors alike. Finding work experience in a position which directly relates to the degree you are studying will be of huge benefit when selling yourself in that interview for a job in the career you choose – but be aware that such positions are often upaid.
Of course, there are cons too! The extra cash and responsibility are nice, but don't over-commit yourself. You are paying a lot of money towards this degree and if you try to work too many hours you will lose focus in your studies and your grades will suffer.
The type of job you choose is important too - if you have early seminars or need a lot of sleep to function then a bar job may not be the right choice. Working late nights - especially during the week - will mean you are tired and won't pay attention in lectures. Similarly, if you don't have much free time during the week then don't work the entire weekend. Being a student at uni means you have to study at home too - burning the candle at both ends will not help. It is very important to set time aside - away from studying and working - to relax and socialise. This keeps you sane and ensures you remain motivated towards achieving this degree.
Where to find one?
If you want cafe, bar, pub, club or promo work then firstly you need to go into them and ask if they have any vacancies or if you can hand in your CV. The more you give out, the more likely you will get that call.
Most universities will have a job page and even one geared towards students. You need to either ask at your 'student hub' or use Google to find the one at your uni. At Manchester Metropolitan University, we have a site listing all jobs at the uni, as well as one specifically aimed at the students. The latter is of most help as the jobs listed tend to meet the requirements of a student looking for a work, often in fields which link towards a degree.
Social Media is a massive help too - look for groups for students at your university on Facebook and Twitter which list vacancies or job alerts. You will find plenty! Of course, looking at the jobs online or in a newspaper - or just asking friends who already have a job - will not harm you either!
Things to know if you do get a job..
It is important to know your rights at work - there is legislation in place that governs all employment, including for students.
Trouble @ Work? - UNISON and the National Union of Students (NUS) created this site on basic employment rights, health and safety issues, and much more.
Students and Tax - Information for students and tax
National Minimum Wage - What's the correct minimum wage for you?
Degree comes first!
Don't put your work before your degree – it costs a lot of money and requires a lot of time and attention. Do not commit to too many hours so you can go out and waste it all on alcohol. Save money by spending an extra night in and studying instead...
Build your skills.
Find a role which will enable you to build a portfolio of relevant and useful skills on your CV. These will help you stand out against all the other candidates when applying for that dream job. An internship will provide useful experience and is a fantastic opportunity to find employment with an established, reputable company.
Have a top-notch CV.
There is no point sending out a poor CV which doesn't clearly sell you to an employer. You need to spend time making your CV clear, concise and accurate. Pass it to your tutors or careers service to have a look through – they will probably have some templates you can work from if you need to.
Flexible employers rule.
Try to find a flexible employer who is sympathetic to your duties as a student. Lots of companies seek out students for their roles and these will be the ones who know what they are dealing with and so will offer a better working package for you. Google specialist student job sites and these will guide you to the best jobs.
If you don't get a job, you need to stretch that money!
Nowadays, 90% of students do some kind of work to support themselves whilst studying but if you don't have the spare hours or decide it isn't for you then you will need to make the most of the cash you do have. Here are 2 great sites for you to check out:
www.accommodationforstudents.com - find the best and cheapest student location in your area. One of the biggest outgoings for any student is rent, so this site is a must!
www.glide.uk.com - not only can you avoid being responsible for your housemates rent, but you will have one monthly figure to cover all of your bills (services, utilities etc) and any money overpaid will be refunded at the end of the year. Check out the site for a quote today.
Don't forget to flash your Student ID card for student discount at any opportunity… literally thousands of businesses offer discounted goods and services to students.
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