Don’t underestimate your value as a student. Although you may often feel like you are far from an expert in your chosen subject, remember you are probably more knowledgeable in your chosen field than the rest of us! Utilise these skills to enable you to find jobs that you’ll excel at and will also help to give you the necessary work experience needed for you to be able to stand apart from the rest once you’ve graduated. We spoke to some students who harnessed the knowledge and skills they’ve developed at university and used them to make their education pay.
Kate, third year, Music
As a music student I participate in lots of university shows which means I usually have rehearsal commitments in the evenings and weekends. I therefore struggled to find time to fit in a part time job, as I obviously also have my academic work as well! This was really annoying as the extra pocket money would really have helped me out. Luckily, I found the perfect solution! I now work as a choral scholar at a local church. This just entails two hours a week on a Sunday morning, singing in a church choir. Loads of churches offer these opportunities; it’s surprising how many you’ll find if you just do a little research. I get paid £25 a week, though this does vary with level of skill and commitment. It’s a great job for me and I feel that it’s directly helping me develop my musical abilities and is a very small time commitment. The only downside is I can’t have big nights out on Saturday!
Joe, second year, Marketing
I got a job at the beginning of the year as a brand ambassador for a graduate scheme. Although it’s not always the glamorous side of marketing (mostly I’m just leafleting or putting up posters) it’s given me some great hands on experience which I think will be really valuable when I’m applying for jobs when I’ve graduated. Although it can be a bit cold, there’s a great team spirit and I’ve made some good mates. Plus it’s really flexible so I can work more or less hours depending on workload, and can fit it easily around my lectures. My boss is also really receptive to my ideas for specific marketing stunts so I feel like I do have a voice in what I’m doing. I get paid £6 an hour and work about 4 hours a week.
Miriam, third year, Classics
I’d pretty much given up on finding a job which would be relevant to my degree…not much of a call for being able to conjugate Latin verbs! I was browsing the university careers postings though and came across a tutoring company looking for tutors to teach high school students to GCSE and A Level standard. You need to have at least an A Level in your chosen subject and also being studying it at university. I now help two 16 year old girls with their Latin homework twice a week. The pay is really good, £10 an hour, so even though I only do a couple of hours it’s an added extra which really helps out. The great thing about tutoring is that tutors are needed for nearly every subject, so most students can find a job!
Tom, second year, Biology
I got an email from the university about becoming an alumni caller and applied straight away. Basically the only requirements are that you’re an enrolled student and have a good telephone manner. We’re basically given a list of alumni and work through them, catching up on what they’ve been up to since they left university and seeing if they’d be interested in making a donation to the university development fund. I was a bit nervous about having to ask people for money but the majority of people I speak to are really nice and very keen to have a chat. Everyone fills out a survey of what courses they’ve taken and societies they’re involved with and the computer system tries to match up similar callers and alumni, this means that often the conversations are really interesting! There’s a great atmosphere in the office, especially when someone manages to secure regular donations. It’s also really flexible and we have a Facebook group which allows us to easily swap shifts. Pay’s good too!
Top tips for how to make your education pay!
- Check out the university job listings regularly. This is the place employers are most likely to advertise subject specific job positions.
- Advertise! Think about what marks you apart from the rest and what roles you could apply yourself to. Put up posters in university buildings and on noticeboards in your local area. Also think about advertising online on sites like gumtree.com
- Speak to university staff and other students. It’s worth asking your tutor if they know of any jobs which students in your subject area usually fill. Also speak to students in older years, they’ll be more likely to know the best opportunities for you subject.