10 Top Tips for Working While Studying

1. Put your degree first
90% of students have to work to pay their way through university now, so you aren’t alone in needing to get a term time or holiday job. However, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are at university to get the best degree you can, so your studies should always come first. Doing paid work during the holidays is obviously the best way of earning while making sure you don’t miss out on study time, but if you need to earn during term time, most universities advise doing a maximum of 15 hours paid work per week.

2. Find flexible employers
To ensure any paid jobs don’t interfere with your studies, look for jobs and employers who offer flexible work you can fit in around your studies. There are hundreds of companies who actively look to recruit students, and they all respect your study commitments and your needs for flexible work patterns. Some big retailers take students on as customer service assistants part time during term time in their university town and then let them work full or part time in their hometown during the holidays. Your easiest way of finding employers like that is to search specialist student job sites.

3. Build your skills
Getting a paid job is usually just about earning some cash to make ends meet while you study, but it is also a fantastic opportunity to build your skills and improve your CV. The graduate job market is currently flooded with people who have good degrees, so graduate employers are looking for candidates with solid work experience who can prove they have the practical skills companies need. So if you do paid work while studying, try to land term time and holiday jobs that will add new skills to your CV or utilise existing skills that employers value such as IT and showing initiative. Such work experience will help your cash flow at uni, and also enhance your chances of landing a graduate job when you finish studying.

4. Do an internship
A structured internship with a reputable organisation can provide excellent training and practical experience which will shine like a beacon on your CV! Many companies are now using internship programmes to identify top students so you could end up with a graduate job offer before you even start your final year at uni! Beware of companies who call a job photocopying and tea making an “internship”. Lots of companies throw the term “internship” around to make a menial job sound interesting. A real internship that will actually help you is a structured programme where you will receive training, mentoring and hands on practical experience.

5. Do paid surveys in your spare time
Paid surveys are a great way of making a few extra quid in your spare time. Market research companies will pay you to fill in surveys from their clients about new products and services. You get emailed invitations to take surveys and are told how much you will earn for completing them. Participation is optional and you can do it anytime it suits you. It won’t make you big money, but it all helps, especially if you register with a number of the large market research companies. There are some dodgy survey companies out there, but we have put together a list of legitimate paid survey companies.

6. Get a good CV together
Before applying for jobs, put a CV together and get it checked by an expert. Your CV is what employers use to assess whether you are worth considering for any job, so if it isn’t up to scratch, you won’t get past the first hurdle in applying for jobs. Your CV needs to sell you, and needs to be relevant to the position you are applying for. It should highlight to an employer the skills and experiences you have which make you perfect for the role you are applying for. We have teamed up with a professional CV company to offer you a free CV review.

7. Don’t lie on an application form
An application form is a legally binding declaration, so if you lie you can be instantly dismissed by an employer without recourse. So be honest! You are far better off highlighting the skills and experiences you do have that are relevant to the position you are applying for, and utilise examples of where you have shown initiative and an aptitude for learning quickly to compensate for any skills gaps.

8. Keep the taxman at bay
The way the income tax system in the UK is setup has resulted in many students paying too much tax each year. This is because many students work full time in the holidays and then less during term time, or because they change employers during the tax year. If you get a job during the holidays and do not plan to work during term time, then give your employer a P38(S) when you start your job. For your first job after April each year, ask your employer to complete a P46 when you start. Ensure you are given a P45 when you finish that job, and give it to your new employer when you start another job. This will prevent you being taxed at the emergency rate of 40%, and will ensure you don’t pay too much in National Insurance contributions.  You are paying tuition fees so don’t pay extra tax on top! You can find out more about this from our student tax guide.

9. Know your rights
Whether you are working full time or part time, you are entitled to various rights as a UK worker. These cover everything from health and safety, minimum wage, working hours, daily rest breaks, holiday allowances, and sick pay. Most employers will have processes in place to ensure they grant you all these rights, but some unscrupulous employers try to take advantage of cash strapped students by exploiting them. It isn’t very exciting reading, but make sure you know where you stand so you can challenge your employer if you feel you are being exploited in any way.

10. Get a reference from all jobs
A good job reference can be extremely helpful for getting future jobs. It is an independent vote of confidence in your abilities, so the more of these you have the better. Ask every employer you work for if they will write a reference for you. It could help you land your dream job in future!
Employment4Students is a leading student website providing job opportunities, career advice and student deals. Visit www.E4S.co.uk to find jobs mentioned in this article.