This article was written by the TSR community

Need some advice on how to find a summer job?

At the end of the Summer Term, most people see it as time to get out those bikinis and sun beds: but for students of all ages, it's the perfect time to start a summer job and add some cash to your pocket and experience to your CV.

Finding a summer job is a fantastic way to gain skills that will help you develop the professional talents that you'll need throughout your life. These include basic but important skills like customer service, good communication and even gaining self-confidence. Oh yes, and you earn money.....

You can find a range of summer jobs that offer you the chance to earn money and skills and still find time to enjoy the sun. All you need to know is where and how to look - and when.

How to find a job

  • Start looking EARLY - waiting until May/June will be far too late! Most companies start active recruiting around February, so plan ahead.
  • There are loads of different ways to go about finding a summer job. The internet has a range of websites dedicated to finding students summer work; here is a list of the main ones:
  • Student Job
  • Just Student Jobs
  • E4S Student Jobs
  • GumTree
  • Big Choice
  • Indeed
  • Fish4Jobs
  • Alternatively, have a look in newspapers which have job sections, or your college or University career services. Don't forget your local Job Centre.
  • For those who are interested in working in retail, one of the best ways to find this type of summer job is by applying in person. Take some time to wander around your town/city or nearby towns that travel to/from is easy and cheap. Lots of places simply have ads in windows rather than advertising in newspapers.
  • Don't forget to ask your parents too, they may know of a suitable position, or someone for you to contact. And not just your parents; mention it to anyone else who could put in a good word for you. Networking isn't just for full-time employment and you never know who might be able to help you out. Ask friends who have summer jobs if there are any other jobs available at their place of work. Getting your name out there will help in any search.

CV or not?

Whether you're applying via post or email you will need to submit a CV. If you are applying in person, take a CV if you have one. If not, be prepared to complete an application. For help on how to write your CV, why not read up on how to write the best CV you can or get help from our CV helpers.

Important tips

  • Be flexible. It might not be the job you want to do for the rest of your life, but being working in a supermarket for the summer won't kill you. It'll give you invaluable experience to put on an otherwise empty CV, a potential reference, some serious job skills like 'working with people', 'cash handling' and 'problem solving'. It'll also earn you money. Don't turn your nose up any job you are offered - it may be the only thing you get offered and you can't afford to be too choosy.
  • Start looking EARLY. Employers anticipate summer - bigger sales,more people,a chance to make money; so they're going to start recruiting as early as April. Depending on the job, you might even see job application deadlines as early as February or some in the middle of May - so don't leave it too late.
  • Start applying. It's never too early to make applications. Brush up your CV, update it and start sending it out to employers.The earlier you apply the more consideration can be given to your CV, the more organised you'll look and the more likely you're going to be to get a job.
  • Research the companies and roles you are applying for. Not only will you then know exactly what's expected of you in the role you're applying for, but you will also put yourself at an advantage if there's an interview stage later on. Click here for advice on everything interview related.
  • Look at the different areas of work that are available, particularly over summer. Who recruits extra staff they need only for the summer? Shops, hotels, children's camps, restaurants, holiday companies etc. Some other companies will also recruit to cover holiday leave by permanent staff so contact all big employers in your area - hospitals, credit card companies/bank HQs, big manufacturers and factories etc.
  • Beware of any company offering work that is paid as commission, the achievement of 'targets', or on stepped incentives. Charity street-fundraisers, selling double glazing and timeshares are classic examples of this. Ask yourself why they aren't paying a sensible wage - because its cheaper for them not to, as this way you'll earn peanuts.
  • Don't forget your local paper, and you local Job Centre - online search.
  • Its a common misconception that 'students don't pay tax'. Before 2013 there was a simple form to complete to declare that you were unlikely to earn over the tax-threshold and your pay was therefore paid tax free. That no longer exists. As from 6 April 2013 employers MUST operate PAYE (Pay as You Earn) to deduct Income Tax and National Insurance from your wages even if you are a full-time student. You may be able to reclaim this tax later, but you will have to pay it upfront during your employment and you will probably also have to pay NI contributions. Advice here from the Inland Revenue
  • A good way to find out if companies have vacancies (particularly shops) is to go to them with your CV and covering letter in hand. Ask them if you can hand it in, and they will probably let you know when they are looking to take on new applicants. This way they have your CV on record for when that time comes. Then closer to the time when they will be looking for applicants, hand it in again just to be sure that they remember you.
  • Some places will refuse your CV and tell you to look on their websites for vacancies. This seems to happen a lot nowadays, because on their website you will need to fill in their application forms, and often you'll upload your CV there. So make sure you check their websites every week for new vacancies. Most websites have job alerts, when they can email you if the right job comes up.

Common summer jobs for students

Summer Schools/Camps

Not only is it fun - you get to work indoors and outdoors, you get to play with kids, you get to make new friends and best of all you're getting paid for having a laugh! What else could you ask for? There are both day camps and residential summer schools/camps to choose from and why should you need to go abroad to do this when nearly every school in your area is probably organising one every year. Yes, it can be hard work but it's great experience and it looks good on your CV. The best part is, you're almost guaranteed a spot the following year if they felt you were good and some camps occur every holiday i.e. Easter, Xmas etc. Applications appear from the beginning of December and can stretch to February or May depending on the company. It always helps to search university career sites or the company site to be sure. A few links to some well known summer school organisers in the UK...

Festivals and other 'Big Events'

Who doesn't love their festivals?! Wouldn't it be the best job if you worked at one? Imagine free music, you get to see the celebrities, enjoy the music, have fun, get free food and tent space etc etc. Volunteering is useful - it gets some 'experience' on your CV and supports a charitable cause. If this sounds like your kind of thing, why don't you check it out? Look online on the popular student recruitment site Just Jobs 4 Students as they advertise for festival workers. Another idea would be to apply to event staff agencies that send their staff for festival jobs. A few sites to help your search.....
  • Wikifestivals has a long list of opportunities at festivals across Britain, both voluntary and paid work.
  • Green Stewards recruit voluntary stewards to work at festivals including Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Shambala, Wilderness, Beautiful Days, Somersault, Altfest & more and also have paid work at a number of smaller events. They also offer training so you can get a Spectator Safety NVQ qualification to add to your CV.
  • Oxfam Festivals recruit volunteers for both stewarding and running their shops etc at Festivals across the country.
  • Bar Code Recruitment recruits experienced bar staff for paid work at big sporting events and festivals.
  • WOMAD recruits 450+ volunteer stewards each year.
  • Evolve Hospitality in Manchester and London/Surrey recruits staff for big sporting events (Rugby World Cup, Lords cricket, racing at Epsom, and Ascot, major Football stadiums, plus big London theatres etc)
  • G4S recuit stewards for big music and sports events nationwide including the O2 Arena.
  • Seed Staff recruit staff for both festivals and big sporting events (Wembley, Epsom Derby etc) - mostly professional stewarding with long hours - not suitable for those who just want an easy way to watch events. Also some volunteer work (Blissfields in Hampshire, Le Mans in France).
  • Compass Events - stadium staff, catering and hospitality work at venues etc.
  • CSP - event stewards, traffic marshalls at major events UK-wide.
  • Festaff - recruit staff for Major UK Festivals, Glasto, Download, TiTP, Bestival, V Fest and many more!
  • Smaller companies at Festivals include Cafe Chameleon and
  • For Art/Design students needing experience for their CVs - Wild Rumpus recruit volunteers for craft workshops and children's art events at Festivals.
  • Placements as a Roadie or Technician with SFX for those with experience of technical theatre.

For 'promotional' work (marketing products at big events), try googling 'promotional staff' for links to relevant agencies. These include :
  • Stuckforstaff - Promotions work for experienced promoters. You pay £15 for a 6 month subscription.
  • Eventstaffing - Promotions works especially for festivals etc.
  • Think what big events are held near your home/Uni during the summer - Sports Events, County Shows, Beach events, Food Festivals etc. Contact the organisers - they may recruit staff directly or they may tell you which recruitment agency they use.

Work at universities

University work goes on even when students aren't there. Most Universities require temporary staff over the summer for everything from clerical work in the HR Dept and helping in the Accommodation Office, to working in a Lab. Some work is 'one-off' (helping at a specific Conference for example) or longer term (all summer). Accommodation is often available on campus. Ask around your own University, or your 'home' University(s) about what might be available - both your own Dept and the main Admin area (Senate, Academic Registry, Finance etc).
  • For casual and temp vacancies at University of Cambridge colleges see here.
  • For Conference and Events work at Uni of Bath see hospitality work.
  • Casual Events/Conference work at Nottingham Trent Uni see here.
  • Casual Summer Accommodation Housekeeping roles at Uni of Kent see here.
  • Conference/Hospitality vacancies at Girton College, Cambridge here.
  • Casual work opportunities at Uni of London Student Union here.
  • One agency that deals with this sort of work for several Universities is Uni Temps.

Not quite a University, but Zig Zag Educational Publishing in Bristol employs students/graduates for short term writing/editing work.

Student Housing companies

The big private Student Housing companies like UNITE etc often need people to staff Call Centres, process paper work during the summer - usually early July to October or November. Being a student with 'insider knowledge' is obviously an asset to this work.
  • UNITE - jobs in Manchester, Bristol and London
  • The Student Housing Company - jobs in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham etc
  • Contact your own or home town University's own Residential Services office or look on their jobs website for summer vacancies as most Unis use student accommodation for conferences, language courses etc etc. - work usually includes admin, reception, cleaning, catering or sometimes 'tour guides' for student applicants.

Theatre work

No, not 'acting' - this is all the other sort of work - stage crew, box office, marketing, catering etc. For stage crew work it helps if you already have some relevant theatre work experience. For bar/waiting work it helps if you have previous hospitality experience.

OR - just contact your local theatre and ask what short-term, temporary or casual work might be available....

Office work

Administration work can be an excellent addition to your CV. It proves you have skills like IT, telephone, report writing and general organisational skills, can give you a respectable sounding reference and can give you an insight into a particular industry or career path before you graduate. Employers like employing graduates as temps - they are bright, pick up things easily and are generally reliable. You don't need 'secretarial skills' - most of this work involve two finger typing on an employers data-base and/or a sensible telephone manner. It might be work in a conventional office or with a Call Centre. Whatever preconceptions you might have about this sort of work from TV shows, forget them. This sort of work can be well paid, fun and an interesting way to spend the summer. The only warning about Call Centres is to avoid any that involve working on commission - this means you could work all day and take home no money.

To find general admin or clerical work, you can either phone local employers or work through a Temp Agency - or both. Agencies can be frustrating, especially if they keep you hanging on before a contract or only offer you very short-term assignments, and remember they are taking a % of your wage in commission. However in London, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool or any other big city this is often far easier than phoning up hundreds of employers. Write yourself a very 'office oriented' CV - they aren't interested in your degree just your IT skills and relevant work experience - and trail round the agencies. Do not sign up with any that ask you to pay money up front as a 'registration fee' - this is illegal. Stick with the big Agencies like Reed, Office Angels, Hayes etc. Once you have registered with them (you can sign up with as many as you like), phone them daily or they will just forget about you.

Or you can just phone employers yourself. Big employers are best - they are more likely to need summer temps - so think about any big company HQs in your area, government depts, hospitals, insurance companies etc etc. Its also worth looking on their websites first as this may give you a specific person or Dept to phone.

One good website to start with is Indeed as it includes jobs advertised on other sites and the search facility is easy to use. Just search on keywords like summer, office work, admin, clerical, temporary and the location. The websites listed at the top of this article like Student Jobs etc will also have lots of this sort of work.

Jobs with holiday companies, cruise lines and hotels etc.

This is a great way to work and travel, and build up usable job skills. If you have any language ability it gives you an obvious advantage for graduate jobs and this is a great way to learn. There will also be UK based 'office' jobs and these can also be great experience if you want to work in the travel industry on graduation. Some work is unskilled like Holiday repping - you just need an engaging personality and common sense - it can be hard work but you do make friends for life and have fun at the same time. Other work will revolve around all aspects of the hospitality industry - bar work, catering, transport etc, or involve an obvious skill like sports instructing, child care work.

You'll normally find adverts for this kind of job at

Just be wary of any scams e.g. 'schemes' asking for your money upfront etc. And always, always go for well-established travel companies with a known brand-name - small travel companies can easily go bust mid-season and you don't want to be stranded somewhere in Europe with no pay and no way of getting home.

Manual and 'Picking' Work at Home or Abroad

Depending on where you live and your state of fitness, you may want to look for unskilled manual work. Your local job centre is a good place to start looking or if you already know the sort of companies that offer this sort of work, contact them direct

Picking work - this can be hard work but if you enjoy physical work outdoors it can be a great experience. Most 'jobs' only last a couple of weeks and them you move on to a different crop or a different farm. Often you can camp at the farm and this saves ££. You usually need a car between a group of friends. Again local Job Centres list this sort of work in farming areas like East Anglia, the West Country or Scotland. There are lots of organisations that recruit for this sort of work - one example. For volunteer work (in exchange for food & lodging) on Organic Farms (WWOF) in the UK here.

For volunteer work (in exchange for food & lodging) on Organic Farms (WWOF) in Europe or further afield here.

Retail & leisure jobs

Most people go down this route and the best advice for retail jobs would be to apply early - it's competitive. You should start seeing adverts for your favourite stores from late April/early May time, some shops recruit earlier so they can train staff - apply as soon as you see the ads, don't think 'I'll apply nearer the time' - it'll be too late. As soon as you see signs (and keep your eyes open for them straight after Christmas),start applying!

Retail: the earlier you get your CV in and pester them, the more of a chance you have. Look around big shopping malls (often they will have a jobs website combining all opportunities) as well as High Street stores. And don't forget places like shops at Airports - they usually employ lots of seasonal staff to cope with the summer rush/staff leave. If you go into a store to ask about work, always hand in your CV to the manager directly and look good/confident/well dressed as first impressions count. Get the store telephone number and ring them every few days to see if they're having any interviews or going to offer you one or looked through your CV. Eventually they'll look at it just to get you to stop bothering them. Remember apply to as many shops as you can, 5 applications isn't enough!

Supermarket recruitment:

Department Stores:

Tourist attractions like Theme Parks, Leisure Industry, Zoos, National Parks, Theatres, Heritage sites, National Trust, English Heritage, bus and ferry companies etc can also be good places to investigate. Buckingham Palace also recruits summer staff for July when State Rooms are open to the public.

For other jobs, especially for big companies or big department stores, you may find phoning the main HR department is a good approach - just ask if there is any work available over the summer, if so how/when do you apply? Make it clear you are a Uni student and stress any obvious relevant skills you have - finance, experience with children, languages, previous retail or customer service experience etc.

Royal Mail - employ extra staff in the summer and especially at Christmas. Be prepared to work unusual shift patterns. A clean driving licence is useful. See here.


This would mainly be for university students who are looking for experience in their chosen field or course. First, formal internships with big companies are hard to obtain and very competitive. You have to apply as soon as you discover the opening because there are loads of students and non-students looking for that edge and an internship is the best way forward for them. Your Uni Careers Service will know about application deadlines etc.

Student Internships tend to be unpaid but they are invaluable experience. So make sure you apply as soon as you can (most application deadlines are around March but this is obviously dependent on the company). A good resource for finding internships are university careers websites, the company's website and course/field related websites.

Another approach is to do voluntary work for a UK charity. Some are called 'Internships', other opportunities are simply 'voluntary work over the summer'. Both are valuable as work experience (even though it isn't paid) and there are opportunities for every sort of work - admin/office work, event organising, fundraising, finance, marketing, legal etc. You can either approach a charity in your area directly, or check Charity jobs volunteer ads. Barnados runs a formal 12 week internship at locations across the UK for those planning a career in social work or teaching - details here.
  • If you decide to intern in China be sure you have the correct visa and take 5 minutes to Google "China Internship Scams" since there are many scams to avoid.

Private Tutoring

If you got good A level grades (A*/A) and are currently a university student, private tutoring is a great way to make lots of cash over the summer. It's also a really easy, fun and flexible way of earning money part-time during term time too! If you have any previous tutoring/ education-related volunteering experience it definitely helps, but remember - everyone has to start somewhere. If possible, try to get a CRB check wither through an online service (which will cost you money) or through volunteering with kids - for example helping at after-school workshops, a play group or local girl-guiding group, these are also great ways to gain experience to boost your CV.

Advertise your tutoring services on local notice boards or ask local schools to put a poster up, and also consider using website such as First Tutors to promote yourself. Although many tutees are looking for long-term tutoring throughout the year, you can also offer quick revision courses before exams if you break up for your uni summer holidays particularly early (or during your Easter break), or refresher courses over the summer to prepare struggling students for the next term. Although there is a small amount of preparation required for each tutoring session, generally you can create a worksheet in an hour or two or just invest in a collection of CGP revision workbooks. Tutoring is super-flexible work since you are entirely in charge of organising tutoring sessions around your personal availability - perfect if you are balancing it with another job or your social life!


If none of these areas sound interesting to you, what about a bit of self-employment. Consider 'freelance' stuff like casual lawn mowing/landscaping, house painting, car washing, pet / house sitting, childcare, catering, or anything else you can think of. You could start making items and selling them, either by yourself or online. This could earn you a nice bit of money as well as being a great new hobby.


There are heaps of summer jobs not covered here. Whatever degree you are doing or whatever career you might eventually aim for, a summer job is a great way of filling up your CV and earning some money for Uni expenses or a conventional 2 week summer holiday. If none of the above ideas interest you then just look around you local area. Keep an eye for notices in shop windows, use family contacts and tell people you are looking for work. And don't be afraid to try something new - be bold, it could be the start of a career or a life-long interest.

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