News Column

Your guide to Clearing 2014: Earn and learn: A student job can give you life-changing experience as well as some extra pennies, says Liz Lightfoot

August 14, 2014

Liz Lightfoot

Universities want you to study hard but they also know it's quite a stretch to live on a student loan. So they have come to accept - and even promote - part-time jobs during term time.

Don't worry that you will be missing out on the social scene because nearly two-thirds of students devote time to earning extra cash, according to a study by the National Union of Students last year.

Most universities have their own job shops, often run by the students' union or in collaboration with the franchise Unitemps. Local shops, pubs and other businesses also employ students but, unless the work is seasonal, it can mean staying on campus during vacations.

They also give guidance on the number of hours it is sensible to work. "We stipulate that students should not work more than 15 hours a week so they keep a balance with their studies," says John Watkins, director of the careers service at the University of Surrey.

"We recognise that they want to earn some money but from my perspective, as head of careers, it also gives them workplace skills that makes them more employable," he says. Of course, working in a bar or shop might not look like a step towards that high-flying career but these jobs do provide skills that are important to employers, he says. "Part-time work like this demonstrates that you are able to deal with different and unknown situations, communicate with people from different cultures and age groups and that you have team-working skills and adaptability," he says.

Some big companies employ student "brand managers" to help them capture the attention of tomorrow's consumers and promote their graduate training schemes. "It's the best job to have. Not only does it pay well, but it's flexible - you can choose your own work hours to fit around your studies," says Jim Cregan who was a brand manager for Red Bull while studying arts and events at the Arts University Bournemouth.

Invaluable experience

Now the creator of Jimmy's Iced Coffee, Cregan says being a student brand manager helped him to become innovative and intuitive and gave him the confidence to be an entrepreneur. "It's a bit like running your own small business. The company gives you a lot of support and it's up to you to be creative. You find out what is happening and create opportunities to promote the brand," he says.

Universities themselves have learned to make good use of their students and employ them for jobs ranging from waiting on tables to escorting visitors around campus or raising money from alumni.

Part-time work can bring useful perks too, from free food to staff discounts. Some brand managers even get the loan of a car.


Jim Cregan's time as a student brand manager for Red Bull came in handy when he set up his own business

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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