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Finding the Best Part-Time Job while Studying at University

Finding part-time work as a university student is more than a nightmare; here’s how I, and you, can find the perfect placement to take you from uni-life into the working world.

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The struggle of trying to find a great job while at uni

Being a student comes with a heap of reasons to stress, and unfortunately, finding part-time work is only one of them. I found that balancing my university course, professional work and social life to be nigh-on impossible, even with all the fancy calendars, schedules and to-do lists.

Determined to avoid stacking shelves or cleaning tables, I set out to find an opportunity to gain industry experience relevant to my course that could fit around my studies, and having found exactly that, I wanted to share my experiences so others can do the same.

Teddy Student at BU
Student's Union at BU shooting a promo video (I was our Cultural Activities Officer).

What makes the perfect student job?

Is it the money? The responsibilities? The company? The somewhat depressing reality is that most part-time student jobs include inconvenient hours, low pay and a lot of travel. For me, there are three key things students should look out for that make the perfect part-time job – flexibility, mentorship and experience.

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1. Flexibility

Being flexible means that you can avoid those 18 hour days, trips from uni-home-work and back as well as make sure you’re not burning out, missing deadlines or driving yourself crazy.

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2. Mentorship

Having a mentor means your time spent at work will be that much more valuable and no matter how many courses you take or books you read, you’ll never get the same level of training and experience.

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3. Experience

Gaining experience that relates, in one way or another, to your uni course is crucial; giving you a backlog of work to include in your portfolio as well as talk about in future interviews.

Applying & interviewing for the right position

Just before I finished my placement year, I was eager to find a part-time job that would allow me to work even when I was back at university.

Looking over various job portals, boards and websites seemed a massive waste of time as I knew there were hundreds of other students all with the same level of education and experience also applying for the roles.

Lucky for me, however, I came across one role in particular that stood out as one that matched my criteria for the ‘best part-time job for students’. An internship at CUBE Academy.

How can students stand out in a crowd of competition?

It feels as though for every one job opportunity there are about 1,000 student applicants. When it comes to breaking through into the industry, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd.

So, show initiative. It’s no longer enough to just send out your CV to the masses. Put together a portfolio of work, it could be uni assignments or side projects, that can demonstrate your skills and experience.

Another tip would be to email the team leads or managers at whichever company you want to work for. Connecting with them on LinkedIn also helps a tonne and shows the kind of drive and enthusiasm that they’re looking for in students.

I think the number one tip I would give students is to be proactive, creative and unafraid to step outside your comfort zone.

Jen Swain, Head of Operations, 3 SIDED CUBE

Getting started at CUBE Academy

CUBE Academy exists to provide students like myself the opportunity to work on real-life projects that make an impact in the world.

As a team of developers, designers, marketers and project managers, the Academy is a way for CUBE to nurture talent and grow the agency organically.

My onboarding process only reinforced all of the reasons I applied for the position in the first place – my hours could fit around my studies and change weekly, I got to work on real agency marketing AND be part of a team who dedicate time to help develop my skills and set myself up for life after university.

3 Sided Cube team of 2020

Personal development = career progression

Uni may have given me the foundations I needed, the knowledge and understanding of marketing principles, but I wanted to know how to apply it in practice.

If there’s only one thing you take away from this post, it’s that the most important thing for any student or graduate is personal development.

How can a student best prepare for their future?

Putting together a portfolio, website or another way of presenting projects is a must, and make sure you tailor these to the kinds of opportunities you’re looking for.

Make sure you network with people, meet or discover other similar companies, get out to local networking groups and events. Try to gain a mentor and ensure that once you’ve graduated, you know exactly where to go and who to talk to about getting your first full-time job.

Teddy Marketing BU Event
An awards ceremony where I was lucky enough to win a Citizenship and Outstanding Contribution Award

My advice for students looking for part-time work

1. Think about what you really want to work on:

The easier route is to choose the first opportunity you see and go for it. But if you’re going to spend eight hours a day doing something, it better be something you enjoy.

2. Focus on shared values & culture:

Check out the companies website and social channels but go beyond this and try to see their office environment, people, projects, events, activities etc. to make sure you’ll be a good fit and enjoy working with their team.

3. Do your due diligence:

Demonstrate an understanding of the company to show recruiters your passion and drive to become part of the team. Go on LinkedIn, the company’s website and read articles about recent changes, achievements and projects.

4. Practice, practice, practice:

From talking about projects in your portfolio to delivering your first few pieces of work in the job, you’ll never get something right the first time you do it, so get that out the way asap.

5. Create your own opportunities:

Don’t wait around to be given jobs or the chance to work on things you haven’t been asked to – if you want to do something, think about its value and discuss it with your manager.

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Published on March 9, 2020, last updated on April 30, 2020

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