The ultimate student summer job guide

Need some advice on how to find a summer job? We've got you

The end of the summer term marks the perfect time to crack out the beach ball and BBQs. But for students, it's also the perfect time to start a summer job.

You can find a range of summer jobs that offer you the chance to earn money and boost your skills, all whilst leaving you enough time to soak up the sun. All you need to know is where, how and when to look - and you've come to the right place.

How to find a job

Job-hunting can be a long and daunting process when you don't know where to start. So here's a couple of tips to get you going:

  • Get your CV up to scratch before you do anything. If you need some pointers on how to get started, read up on how to write the best CV you can or get help in the TSR CV helpers forum. You could also look up some samples online, but make sure not to include anything that isn't true.
     
  • Start looking early; waiting until May or June means all the best positions will have already been filled. Most companies start actively recruiting around February, so get started as soon as you can.
     
  • There are loads of different ways to go about finding a summer job, but if you want to do it from the comfort of your room, go online! Some good places to start are Student JobJust Student JobsE4S Student JobsGumTreeBig ChoiceIndeed or Fish4Jobs.
     
  • Alternatively, have a look in the job sections in newspapers. You could also try your college or university career services, and don't forget your local Job Centre.
     
  • If you're interested in retail, start pounding the pavements and applying in person. Taking time to speak to people means you're putting a face to the name on your CV, which could give you the edge over online applicants. Lots of places still put up ads in windows too, so you might see something you'd otherwise have missed.
     
  • Get networking! It's not just useful for full-time employment; you never know who might be able to help out with your search. Ask friends who have jobs if there are any positions available at their place of work, and don't forget to ask your parents too - they could know someone for you to contact or offer you some advice.

Common jobs for students

Retail and leisure jobs

Most students choose to go down this route, so the best advice for retail would be to apply early as it's very competitive.

Adverts usually start popping up from late April/early May time, but some shops recruit earlier so they have time to train staff. You can look around big shopping malls or check out their website, as often they'll have a jobs website combining all opportunities. Try high street stores and even shops at nearby airports, as they usually employ lots of seasonal staff to cope with the summer rush.

Here's a couple of good places to start.

Supermarket recruitment:

Department Stores:

  • Harrods - London
  • Selfridges - London, Birmingham, Manchester
  • Debenhams - branches nationwide
  • House of Fraser - branches in most big cities
  • Primark also have branches in Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.


Tourist attractions like Theme ParksLeisure Industry, Zoos, National Parks, Theatres, Heritage sites, National Trust, English Heritage, bus and ferry companies etc can also be good places to investigate. Royal Mail also employ extra staff in the summer and especially at Christmas, but be prepared to work unusual shift patterns. 

Festivals and big events

Who doesn't love a festival? Imagine working at one - you get to see live music, enjoy the atmosphere and even get free food!

Volunteering is useful - it gets you some  of that valuable experience on your CV whilst also supporting a charitable cause. If this sounds like your kind of thing, look up your favourite festivals online to see if they're recruiting for volunteers, or apply to event staff agencies that help recruit staff for festival jobs.

A few useful websites...

  • Wikifestivals has a long list of opportunities at festivals across Britain, both voluntary and paid work
  • 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
  • Evolve Hospitality in Manchester and London/Surrey recruits staff for big sporting events (Rugby World Cup, Lords cricket, racing at Epsom etc)
  • G4S recruit stewards for big music and sports events nationwide, including the O2 Arena
  • Seed Staff recruit for both festivals and big sporting events - 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
  • Festaff recruits for major UK festivals; Glastonbury, Download, TiTP, Bestival, V Fest and many more
  • Wild Rumpus recruit volunteers for craft workshops and children's art events at festivals
  • SFX offer placements as a roadie or technician for those with experience of technical theatre
  • Eventstaffing offer promotions work especially for festivals.

Have a think what big events are held near your home or uni during the summer - sport events, county shows, beach events, food festivals etc - and contact the organisers. They may recruit staff directly or they may tell you which recruitment agency they use. You can also try hitting up local venues or theatres to see if they're hiring for any big events or shows.

Camps and summer schools

Working at a summer camp is heaps of fun - you get to work outdoors, play with kids, make new friends and best of all, you're getting paid for having a good time. 

There are both day camps and residential summer schools or camps to choose from and lots of them are based in the UK. It can be hard work, but it's also looks good on your CV. The best part is, you're almost guaranteed a spot the following year if they're impressed with your effort, and some camps occur every holiday, giving you the chance to work over Easter and Christmas too.

Applications appear from the beginning of December and can stretch right up to May, depending on the company. Here's some good links to check out:

  • Camp Beaumont Day Camps - 10 camps around London and Surrey
  • Team Camp - based in London
  • Nurture Day Camps - emphasis on drama, cookery, art & crafts
  • Virgin Active - children's holiday clubs with nationwide vacancies
  • Activate Sport - usually recruit sports staff for activity centres
  • Al Fresco Holidays - overseas reps and staff for family holiday centres across Europe
  • Xplore - teen activity camps in Germany, UK, USA and China
  • XKeys - day camps, residential camps and English Language Schools
  • SuperCamps - day camps and focussed courses in arts and crafts, cookery and business for teens
  • Barracudas - around outer London, dance and drama especially needed
  • English Country Schools - formal English Language classes and sports activities
  • PGL - sports staff, catering staff and Head Office admin jobs
  • Stafford House - summer camps in Britain and USA
  • Language Study Centres - big company operating English Language camps in UK and USA
  • Studio Cambridge - winter and summer English language centre in Cambridge
  • Carnival Cruises - recruits teachers, nursery assistants and youth play workers for cruise ships
  • Kings Recruit - recruits activity leaders & sports coaches plus qualified teachers/childcare workers for cruises and luxury resorts.

Universities and student housing

Yep, university work still goes on even when students aren't there! Most universities require temporary staff over the summer for everything from clerical work in the HR department to helping in the accommodation office or working in a lab.

Some work may just be a one-off - helping at a specific conference, for example - but other jobs may last all summer. Ask around your own university or universities near your home to find out what's available. Alternatively, google your uni of choice and check in their jobs section to see what takes your fancy.

Private student housing companies like UNITE also often need people to staff their call centres or process paper work during the summer, especially around early July up until November. Check out the UNITE website for jobs in Manchester, Bristol and London, or The Student Housing Company for jobs in London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and many other cities.

Office work

Administration work can be an excellent addition to your CV; learning new IT skills, improving your telephone manner, report writing and general organisational skills can give you a respectable sounding reference and an insight into a particular industry or career path before you graduate.

To find general admin or clerical work, you can phone local employers and/or work through a temp agency. Remember that agencies do take a percentage of your wage in commission and they can sometimes be a bit frustrating, but they're also really good at hunting down lots of suitable positions and save you time in searching.

Write yourself an 'office oriented' CV - in particular highlighting your IT skills and relevant work experience - and hit up as many agencies as possible. Stick with the big agencies like Reed, Office Angels and Hayes etc, and avoid any that ask you to pay an upfront fee as this is illegal. 

If you fancy looking for positions yourself, a good place to start is on Indeed. Just search on keywords like summer, office work, admin, clerical, temporary and enter your location. 

Internships

If you're looking for experience directly in your field, an internship may seem a better way to spend your summer. Formal internships with big companies can be hard to bag because of the amount of people applying, so make sure you get in there with a well-thought out application as soon as you can! Your uni Careers Service will know about application deadlines and can also offer you advice on applying.

Student Internships are sometimes unpaid, but they do offer invaluable experience. Just make sure you know upfront whether you'll receive any payment - and if not - how you can support yourself with other means over the summer.

Another approach is to do voluntary work for a UK charity. Whilst this won't top-up your bank account, you'll still walk away with some valuable experience, and there's a variety of fields you could dabble in - admin or office work, event organising, fundraising, finance, marketing, legal... the list goes on. You can either approach a charity in your area directly, or check charity jobs volunteer ads.

Other options

Jobs with holiday companies, cruise lines and hotels

This is a great way to work and travel, all whilst collecting some transferable job skills along the way. Alongside positions abroad, there are also UK-based 'office' jobs that can provide great experience if you want to work in the travel industry after graduation. 

You can find adverts for these roles on:

Just be wary of any scams asking for your money upfront, and 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.

Go freelance!

If nothing above takes your fancy, why not try going freelance? One of the easiest options for uni students is private tutoring; it's is super-flexible as you can organise sessions around your schedule, so you'll still have plenty of time to soak up the sunshine!

Although many students are looking for long-term tutoring throughout the year, you can also offer quick revision courses before exams or refresher courses over the summer to prepare struggling students for the next term. There is a small amount of preparation involved before each tutoring session, but investing in a collection of CGP revision workbooks will also help.

A couple of websites to check out:

If tutoring isn't your thing, you could also check out casual lawn-mowing or landscaping, house painting, car washing, pet or house sitting, childcare or anything else you may have some experience in. 

Tips for college and uni students looking for a summer job

  1. Work out what you want from the job - career-related experience? Or just some cash to top up your loan? This will help you narrow your search.
     
  2. But be flexible. The job you're offered might not be your ideal 'job for life', but working in a supermarket for a few months, for example, will give you invaluable experience to put on what might be an empty-looking CV. You'll also get yourself a sturdy reference, some serious transferable skills ('working with people', 'problem solving') and you'll get some cash out of it.
     
  3. Research the companies and roles you're applying for. Not only will you then have a better understanding of who you'll be working for, you'll also give yourself an advantage for the interview stage.
     
  4. Don't be afraid to follow-up after interviews. You can send a thank-you e-mail to the interviewer, and even ask for feedback so you know how to improve for next time. If you don't get to interview stage, you can still give the company a call or e-mail - your ongoing interest might just give you the edge over other job seekers.
     
  5. Beware of taking on work that only pays on commission. Charity street-fundraisers and certain call centres can work like this, so make sure you discuss the amount you'll be getting paid before you sign a contract.
     
  6. Some places will refuse your CV and tell you to look on their websites for vacancies, so make sure you check their websites every week for new vacancies. Most websites have job alerts that email you if the right job comes up, so make sure you sign up to them so you can apply right away.
     
  7. It's a common misconception that 'students don't pay tax', but unfortunately that's not true. 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. Here's some advice from GOV.UK if you're stuck.

Other than that - happy job-hunting!

Have you got any advice for job-hunting? Maybe you've got some tips to spruce up a CV? Join in with the conversation below.

Related on TSR:

The 'how to get a job' thread
Advice on applying for a job
The careers and jobs forum
Chat to people about volunteering

 

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