Talking Points

A student’s guide to working while studying

The benefits of a part-time job for students

Many full-time students choose to work part-time between lectures and essay-writing. It’s a great way to earn money to pay for your student accommodation, but working part-time during your studies gives you the experience you need for life post-university.

Let’s say you work part-time in a bar, restaurant, or shop. Jobs like these teach you to think on your feet while under pressure in a fast-paced environment. They’re also fantastic roles for developing your people skills and improving the way you communicate.

If you work in a part-time job that keeps you at a desk, it can improve your computer and technical skills. This is a useful experience for those that envision working in an office once they graduate, and it could even help you with your online work at university.

The main benefit of a part-time job for a student is earning money for your rent, groceries, and necessities, as well as going out with friends and enjoying your life as a student. But earning money also teaches you a good lesson in the value of the pound. If you work part-time as a student, you learn where to save and where to spend your money earlier than most, putting you in a good position for when you move into private and professional rental properties.

How to find a part-time student job

For some part-time jobs, it’s as easy as walking into your local bar or independent restaurant to ask if they have any vacancies for a part-time student job. It’s best to take your CV, but some hospitality and retail establishments understand young students might not have much experience. In cases like these, a positive attitude and enthusiasm can be what lands you the job.

Other positions require a little more groundwork. Look to platforms like Indeed, Reed, and Jobsite. You might have an idea of what industry you would like to work in, narrowing down your search. Try searching “bookshop” or “bar work” and filter the search to your chosen location. If you’re not fussy about what work you do, even better – just select part-time hours and browse the available positions until you see something you would like. 

First-year students might benefit from job hunting before they even arrive at university, as many positions are taken by the second and third years by the time term starts. Once you get your UCAS acceptance and are sure you’ll be in the city at the right time, contact the hiring managers of the jobs you’re interested in.

How to write a student CV for a part-time job

You’ll need to craft a well-written CV that stands out from the crowd, no matter what job you’re applying for. Those who are hiring have likely seen hundreds of the same CVs when advertising positions, so they’ll be critical of every detail.

Include every bit of experience you can, from the Saturday job you had at your local chippy when you were 16 to your DofE award. You’ll need to include your qualifications too, even if the job doesn’t require someone who has an A* in History and Politics.

Just as you would with your coursework, you’ll need to make sure your CV reads well. Read it over several times before you apply to make sure every T is crossed and I is dotted. A CV with spelling or grammar mistakes is more likely to be swept into the rejection pile, so proofread everything several times.

How to write a student cover letter for a part-time job

Your cover letter should be short and to the point yet engaging. It’s the first thing the employer sees, so it needs to grab their attention and be well-written.

Make sure you amend your cover letter for each unique job you’re applying for, explaining why you think you’ll be a good match for the position. Address the hiring manager directly, using their name if you have it or “Dear Hiring Manager” if you don’t. Give a brief overview of your skills and experience, but let your CV do most of the talking.

Best part-time jobs for students

The best part-time student job you can find is one that you enjoy, but also doesn’t take up too much of your time. The whole reason you applied to university is to learn, so your studies should always come first.

Bar work is popular among students, as it typically offers evening hours. A working schedule like this won’t cut into your lecture hours or pull you away from the library during the day. You could even find work somewhere your friends usually go – you might be on the other side of the bar, but you can still catch up with them while polishing glasses.

Working in a retail shop on weekends is also ideal, as you’ll still have time for university work and have a chance to go on nights out with friends. If you see yourself wanting to go back home quite regularly, however, you should find out how easy it is to take the odd weekend off before accepting the position.  

Many university libraries offer part-time library positions to students. You might initially dread the idea of spending any more time than needed in the library, but it can actually put you in good stead for your studies. You’ll have good knowledge of where to find those all-important textbooks you need for your next essay and know exactly where the best place to study is.

Think about where your interests lie and whether you could find a part-time student job that can help you work towards your professional goals after graduation. While your friends might find work at the local pub or land a Saturday job at their favourite high-street shop, you could find something that directly applies to full-time jobs you would like to apply once you receive your qualification.

Student online part-time jobs

Many university students like the option of being able to visit home when they want, or even travel to meet other friends at their own universities. But evening and weekend part-time student jobs can make it difficult to make the time.

To enjoy the freedom of being a student while still earning money, a good option could be a student online part-time job. There are now more remote vacancies than ever before, with some offering flexible hours, meaning you can take your laptop home with you to spend time with loved ones while you work.

Student online part-time jobs are a great way to get a feel of what life after university could be like. Let’s say you would one day like to work in marketing – many agencies offer part-time positions to students who can help with basic admin tasks. You might spend a lot of time uploading copy to websites, but there’s a chance you could be asked to proofread content or help with research. Whatever the tasks, it will look fantastic on your CV.

How many hours can a full-time student work in the UK?

There is no minimum or maximum legal requirement for how many hours a full-time student can work in the UK. However, you should consider the importance of your studies.

Some students find that working only eight hours per week is enough to cover them financially, on top of their termly student finance payments. This might not be enough for some students, however, but it is still advisable to give yourself enough time to study, socialize, and rest. Less than 15 hours per week is recommended, but it depends on how well you can balance other areas of your life.

How to balance work and study

Organization is key to balancing part-time work with your studies. A weekly routine of studying and working around your lectures and seminars is recommended, but it all depends on your course structure.

Module timetables usually change twice a year, meaning you’ll have the same timetable between the course start date and the Christmas holidays before it changes in January. Some employers might be happy to change your shift pattern throughout the year, but others may prefer you have set shifts in the evenings and weekends. If this is the case, you can simply change your study times around your job.

Make sure you plan what work you need to complete across each of your modules every week and when you do it. You might have a morning lecture that you can follow with a library session, before taking a break for a bite to eat and heading to your evening shift. Whatever the pattern, it has to work for you, your job, your studies, and your overall wellbeing.

If you feel you can’t take time away from your studies, you might prefer to find a summer job. Because your course will be on hold over the holidays, you could work even more hours to build up funds for when you return to university in September.

In between studying and working for your part-time student job, you need somewhere to rest. Find student accommodation with Pickard Properties across Leeds and further afield to make a home away from home.

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