Working While Studying: How to find jobs at university plus the benefits and challenges

Over my time at University I’ve had quite a few different jobs to support myself. During my undergraduate degree I worked as event staff at the university, I also worked as a steward in the summer at festivals, as bar staff at nightclubs, and I tried to get as many paid internships as possible. It’s not always easy to find paid internships but they always look great on your CV. Over the last few months (since I started my masters here at Surrey) I’ve been a social media manager, a postgraduate student ambassador, a marketing sales writer, and I’ve sold a couple of freelance writing pitches. This was all happening while studying full-time, volunteering at the 2021 Surrey New Writers Festival, being on the committee of a couple of societies and writing regularly for the student magazine – The Stag. 

How to find part-time work:

So, the first place I’d look is Unitemps. This is where a lot of jobs at university are listed. The search function is so useful and all the information about each job is listed clearly. I’d really recommend finding work with the university, as your employer will easily understand that you have studying commitments and the work will be more flexible around this.

Otherwise, my work outside of uni has come from contacts I’ve made through placement or other jobs I’ve done – it’s always worth reaching out to any contacts you’ve made to see if they have any part-time vacancies! Indeed and Reed are also good websites to take a look at to find work outside of the university. 

Benefits of part-time work:

I’m going to break this down into 3 main points. Firstly, the obvious, financial benefits. Being a student can be expensive, and it’s always great to have a little bit of an income so your bank balance isn’t just a constant decline. However, if financial difficulty is your main motivation behind seeking part-time work – the university offers a large number of scholarships and bursaries, so do check to see if you’re eligible to apply to any of these first!

Secondly, maintaining a part-time job alongside your studies can be a great way to show your time management skills to future employers. As well as this, regardless of what work you’re doing, you’ll always gain some transferable skills – whether in organisation, team-work, or creative-thinking. Even applying to jobs is a useful experience; when you leave university, you’ll have a CV ready to go and you’ll have plenty of interview experience under your belt!

Last but not least, part-time work is a fantastic way to meet others. You get to meet other students or colleagues (virtually or in-person), which is always nice given the fact that we’ve all had minimal human contact recently. On top of this, you never know what opportunities can come from contacts you make within the job. 

Challenges of part-time work:

That being said, working alongside studying can be pretty tiring. It’s important to make sure your employer understands that your degree is your priority. What I do is communicate to my employers when my university deadlines are, so they’re aware of the times where I will be less responsive to work emails. 

It’s also so important to ensure you have some time to yourself – prioritise yourself and your mental health above anything else. I find having a schedule really important for this, so I make sure to block out certain times throughout the week where I won’t study or work, I will make sure I do something else I enjoy.