Student jobs: love ‘em or hate ‘em?
Sometimes we’re obliged to get a job while studying at university. Personally, I’m a big proponent of making money online instead of getting a student job, but if for whatever reason that’s not a possibility, student jobs are the next best thing.
The good thing about student jobs is that you get to mingle with different people, you learn what it’s like to have a boss and to earn a paycheck. The bad thing about student jobs is they can be exhausting, time consuming and the paycheck at the end of the month is not much 🙄. Also, nasty bosses are a thing.
Personally, I’ve had about 4 student jobs: museum assistant, waitress, promoter and even party guide (yes!). Although I’ve learnt a lot and it was a path I had to go through, I wouldn’t do them again. However, here are a few steps on how to get a student job that benefits you as much as possible.
1. Look for some added skill
Ideally, you want a job that will give you some added skills that you can also add to your CV. Maybe working in a call centre is better than working as a waiter, because you really learn what it’s like to manage and talk with angry clients (however unpleasant that may be). You may have an argument that it’s better to work as a waiter – perfect, look for those arguments for the job you want to be getting.
When looking for student jobs, look for that skill that you believe could give added value. As a promoter, I learnt how to sell and the basics of marketing. As a party guide, I learnt how to interact with strangers and lead a group of 30 drunk people (definitely a skill 😛).
Once you identify the skill you want to be improving, focus on working on it, on getting better at it. Not only can you put that on your CV, but you’ll genuinely enjoy the job more since you’ll feel that you’re not wasting your time.
Internships are obviously another great way to practice a more corporate skill and add something good to your CV – but if it’s not paid and it’s not flexible… complications.
2. Search online or through student recruitment agencies
If you kind of already have an idea of what you want your student job to be, you can look through several online databases for that ideal student job. Some examples are Gumtree and Student Job. If you have no idea what you could do, just look through those websites and check out what’s on offer and what would give you some additional interesting skills.
Another option is to search for a job through student recruitment agencies such as Morgan Hunt. Another great place to look for jobs is your own university – they will give you recommendations and inside info on great student jobs.
This is literally the tactic that got me my internship that I am so happy with.
Networking is literally how to create luck.
You go to these networking events organised by your university or just as an external event and go to meet people. You mention that you’re searching for an internship or a student job and look around. And this is how you find your golden opportunity.
You won’t get the job at your 1st event, or at your 2nd or even at your fifth. You get it at your 20th or 50th. Yes, it takes effort, patience and determination, but really it does work, because many times it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.
And that’s exactly how I got my paid internship working at a fintech startup – by networking.
Here’s a great guide to networking like a boss.
Once the search process is over and you start working, you want to make sure the job is optimised as much as possible.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the company is willing to work with you.
You want to make sure the company understands that you are a student, and that you won’t always be available during exams, that you have certain commitments. This is best done by meeting the manager face to face and making sure everyone is on the same page. Even better to do this when you’re first applying for jobs, request to see the manager and talk to them face to face. This will earn you respect as well as interest. 😎
Ideally you want a job that is flexible enough that you’ll have more time to study during exams, although it may not always be possible (which is why working online is so great!).
5. Nothing under minimum wage
Double, triple check that the company won’t be paying you under minimum wage. Ask them the day of the interview how much they will pay and make sure you keep track of the hours/days you work. Every pound is needed, so make sure you track it.
In addition, make sure to read up on taxes (4 things every British student should know about tax) so you make sure you know what you should and shouldn’t be paying.
If your student job has something that involves skill, that is flexible and that pays enough, then you’ve got yourself a good deal and it won’t be too bad. Student jobs are part of the evolution to success, and they don’t have to be waste of time or energy. They’re a part of the learning curve and you learn some essential basics such as how to interact with a boss and how to manage an income. I remember the first time I got a paycheck I was like ‘people are actually paying me to do this?😱’.
So as long as you put the effort into finding something worth it, you should be fine. Good luck! 💪