A Brookes guide to part-time work: Finding your best student job
Sincerely, an overworked third year
It’s normal for students to work part time while studying at university. If you’re like me, a job will help to pay for the bills and rent your student loan doesn’t cover; or you might have never had a job and want to gain some skills and experience before finding your career; or you might just want some extra money to buy more Jagers at the club and fund a Zara addiction.
Not every person is suited to every job. Luckily for you, I’ve experienced enough part time jobs over my Brookes degree to provide the perfect guide to find out which job is best for you.
If you’ve got a demanding course and need extra money, tutoring is a great option. While hours vary, most student tutoring jobs only require you to do one to two hours a week, with a pay of around £20 per hour. Online tutoring saves you transport time and money, and the timings are super flexible based on when you and your student are free. However, you have to be willing to put in the effort to understand what it is you are teaching; this will mean recapping old subjects or learning new concepts completely. Depending on if you’re a quick learner, this could be easy money or as tough as doing an extra assignment. Also, obviously, you have to be good with children and teens, be patient when they struggle, and be able to answer their questions. If you’re considering teaching in the future, this is a great way to gain some experience and extra cash for takeaways.
Probably the most social uni job, a lot of fellow students will be working in hospitality. You can make some great friends over the bond of rushing food to tables, pouring shots, or shutting down in the evening. For students wanting to travel, bartending is also a skill you can take global. You’ll quickly learn all your liquors, measures and cocktail ingredients, and be able to apply these from one bar to another. Also, zero hour contracts can be great for students with flexible schedules.
It’s not all positives though: as a waiter, you’ll spend a whole day on your feet, dealing with angry customers and even angrier chefs. Bartending can be even worse; who likes dealing with drunk people whilst you’re stone-cold sober? In pubs and bars you normally won’t be finished until past midnight, which might mean splashing on a taxi to get home. The pay can also be pretty low: if you keep all your tips, this might not be a problem, but if you have to split tips? Well, who doesn’t feel satisfied coming home with £3 change after working 12 hours straight?
Retail jobs are great social and secure jobs for students to get while at uni. Hardly ever do you find a zero hour contract; typically, you will have set hours and days. With retail you will get a good store discount on the products, perfect if you’re a shopping addict like me. The salary is also normally slightly higher than hospitality. Plus, if you get a job at a high end store, you might receive commission based on your sales.
Of course, retail isn’t perfect: you will have Karens and Kevins, shoplifters, and people who haven’t been out in public, like ever, who think they can return used items with no receipt.
And they will shout. And they will likely swear. Unfortunately, you will normally just have to grin and bear it until they have left, but don’t worry, everyone else in the store thinks they’re an arse as well.
Who doesn’t want to drive a Mercedes (… delivery van)? For all the students flashing their driver’s licence while your friends still roll around with L plates, delivery driving for supermarkets is a student job that’s gaining a lot of popularity. And for roughly £12 an hour, it’s easy to see why. Shifts are normally four hours due to legal limitations, so it doesn’t have to take up too much of your time. There’s also the odd grandma who’ll give you a tip for carrying the boxes through to the kitchen.
On the other side, for every sweet old lady, you’ll find a Karen waiting to complain about something: the time you get there, the replacement items, or the fact that you slammed the van door too loud in a residential area. Plus there’s a lot of heavy lifting, and if the thought of lugging a box of potatoes, pasta and toilet paper up to the flats on the top floor makes you want to lie down, I’d avoid this one.
Reminder for all jobs:
You will likely be required to work weekends; the interview is when you and the employer can discuss your days and flexibility and will clarify the job expectations there and then. Employers will take advantage of you. You’re young, you need money. Managers will try and not give you breaks, or put you on more shifts than you asked for. If the red flags keep popping up, leave. There’s plenty of jobs going in this economy, it’s easy to find something else.
Prioritise your uni work and life. This seems obvious, it also seems cringe, but seriously, you’re digging yourself into serious student debt to make coffees everyday? Really?? That £7 an hour you’re earning isn’t going to pay off your loan, and wouldn’t you rather be at socials with your friends than mopping? It’s not worth being too tired for lectures and assignments after a full weekend of work, or missing out on flat-adventures because you’re doing overtime.