Written by Lewis MacLean
While some of us in this world are naturally organised and know what they want in terms of a career from day one, and as such, have a thoroughly researched life plan, others don’t. Instead, we simply fall into our degrees in the same way we fall into our jobs, deciding as we go. As a student, there are two main types of employment to choose from: part time jobs and internships; and it can be difficult deciding which one is going to be better, with significant pros and cons to each. Here, we’ve weighed up the two so you can have a read through, and decide which the best is for you and your future career.
Part Time Job
Part time jobs for students mainly take the form of retail, bar or restaurant work, although it is possible to get other forms of work such as office-based admin, or even tutoring.
• Consistent work hours
Unless you’re on a zero hours contract, you’ll find that you’ve got set hours each week, often with the option to work more if you wish. Set hours are beneficial in that you can plan other areas of your life much easier, such as socialising. That being said, zero hours contracts are good if you want to go back home over the holidays, as it’ll be a lot easier taking the time off.
• Secure pay
• With regular hours comes secure pay. You’ll find that it’s more than likely minimum wage, but with waiting and bar work, you’ll often get tips too. The way to look at these types of jobs, is they’ll remind you why you came to University in the first place!
• Broaden your opportunities
Realistically speaking, not everyone has a career path in mind when they go to Uni, with some students still finding their feet as a person; but by taking a generic part time job, you can show your prospective employers that you can carry out the basic duties required (some duties may seem obvious, but many people fall down at interviews by not explaining WHAT they actually do, regardless of how simple. Understand that employers don’t assume anything on a CV, you have to spell it out for them). With a part time job, by the time you leave Uni, you’ll have customer service skills, time management, retail numeracy... not to mention anecdotes for a “time you worked on your own initiative" or a “time you worked together as a team". Plus, with experience in retail or restaurants, you’ll find it easier to stay in your University city and get paid whilst looking for another job; or if it’s a chain, you can probably get a job back in your home town.
These may be paid, but are often unpaid. However, rather than just a casual job, internships can get you into a specific career, providing you with that all-important experience you need on your CV. Trust me, without getting direct experience for the industry that you want to work in, getting a job upon graduation can be very difficult.
• Solid industry experience
Internship times can vary, from 1-2 months, to a 6 month period where you go in for 1-2 days a week. By having a glowing recommendation from an internship, doors open up for you when searching for a graduate job – in fact, you’ll already be on the first step on the ladder before you even leave Uni! A degree is not enough nowadays, you need experience, and an internship is an extremely good way about going about this.
• Less pay
With the huge benefit of relevant experience, comes cons too... and unfortunately, this is likely to come in the form of pay. You may be extremely lucky and find a company who’s willing to pay interns, but it’s more than likely you’ll be working for free (potentially, travel expenses may be paid). You’ll need to weigh this up – if you can do it, then that’s great. If you can’t work unpaid, then if it’s something you really want to do, you may consider taking a part time job during term time to pay for an internship over the summer.
• Great commitment
Yes, it’ll look great on your CV, but you need to be committed if you’re going to complete an internship. Often, if they’re for a few months they’re going to be during summer... you need to understand that you’ll be working the 9-5pm life straight after exams while your friends are out having fun.
Ultimately, it’s down to your own preference as to whether to go for a part time job or an internship. Whilst it’s certain that during University, you need all the money you can get; but with an ever-increasing competition for graduate jobs, employers are looking for experience alongside qualifications, so make sure you get a head start!