Part-time jobs (during gap study time)
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.
Do I need to get a job related to my course?
Not necessarily. As they say, any work experience is good experience. Obvioiusly 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 hardworking 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.
Gain an in-depth understanding of the workplace, build up a network of contacts and discover if a job is right for you by observing someone in their day-to-day role
Can I study while working part time?
Almost half of all postgraduate students – 234,995 out of 539,440 – studied part time, according to figures for 2013/14 from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This extra time allows many students to take on part-time or even full-time work.
Most universities acknowledge the fact that many students need to undertake some paid work during their studies, but recommend a limit of 10 to 15 hours a week during term time. However, not every institution permits it, so it is advisable to check with your university before seeking a part-time job.
If you are not a UK or EEA-domiciled student, there may be restrictions on the number of hours you are allowed to work. For more information, visit UKCISA – Working in the UK during your studies or your careers service.
Think carefully before you decide to take on part-time work and, if it is necessary, consider how many hours you need to do and try to stick to this. Too much work while studying can have a negative effect on your academic work.
Part-time jobs can be carried out during the day when you are free from lectures, in the evenings or at weekends. If you are choosing to return to study after having worked full time, it may be an idea to ask your current employer whether you are able to keep your job but reduce your hours – particularly if your chosen studies will enhance your performance.
Where can I get a part-time job?
Your first stop when searching for a part-time job should be the university Student Job Shop – there will be plenty of opportunities whether it’s in the student bar or the university library, and you may even be able to secure work as a teaching assistant. Find out more about graduate teaching and research assistantships.
Many part-time roles are also available locally and are seasonal. Employers recruit casual employees to cover busy periods such as Christmas in retail and summer in hospitality. Visit your careers service or student job shop to find out what vacancies are available. For part-time positions, you can also search:
How do I apply for a part-time job?
Although competition for part-time jobs is often not as strong as for permanent roles, you will still be expected to write a successful job application detailing your previous experience and be prepared to attend an interview.
When will I be paid?
Wages are often paid monthly, sometimes weekly and are worked out by an hourly payment. Depending on your chosen role, subsidised travel and lunches and attendance at in-house training courses may also be part of the benefits. One of the most valuable outcomes will be the opportunity to have an employer referee on your CV, ready for when the time comes to apply for graduate positions.
Once you have obtained a job offer, make sure that you are given a written contract detailing the terms and conditions of employment. If you do not receive one, then ask.
Should I include part-time work on my CV?
To answer this question you need to use your judgement and common sense.
Whether your part-time job is relevant to your course or the job you’re applying for or not, it can still add value to your CV. If the experience is recent or it helped you to gain useful transferable skills that you can use in future positions then it might be a good idea to mention it on your CV.
If your part-time work experience is years old and bears no relevance to the job you’re applying for then leave it off your CV.
How will it help my career?
Most part-time work does not count towards your course or gain you any academic credit. However, by carefully choosing the type of role you apply for, you can gain relevant industry experience relating to your studies, which may boost your employability upon graduation. For example, as well as the transferable skills you will be able to display to future employers, if you opt to take on a part-time job in a sector you hope to work in once you graduate, you will have relevant work experience and contacts to utilise.
Your university can help you nurture essential skills and gain experience which is highly sought after by employers
There’s a variety of ways you can develop these skills and gain relevant experience while at university. Let’s explore some of the main examples.