The best job you can do at uni...and how to get it

Waitress holding trays of drinks

Perfect job opportunities await at the students' union


UEA

You won't find many people who navigate their uni years without needing cash from a part-time job.

Putting aside lottery winners, YouTube celebs and the kind of people who call their mum and dad 'Lord' and 'Lady', getting by at uni means looking for work that will fit in with your studies.

Fine in theory, but wait until an eight-hour shift at the local pub runs headlong into that big essay deadline. Suddenly you're left with the distinctly ropy choice of keeping your job or keeping your grades.

Wouldn't life be peachy if you had a job that respected your uni workload?

Well - happy days - such a job exists. Just look for work at your uni or students' union.

"These can often be really flexible roles that you can fit around your studies," says Roshan Walkerley, recruitment manager at University of East Anglia (UEA). "Many are term-time only so they work fine for when you head home for holidays."

It's the ideal balance - you get to work for an employer that understands your workload and gives you time off when you want to go home at the end of term.

And working for the union doesn't mean you're limited to pulling pints, says Walkerley. "Working in the SU might involve helping with events, working in the shop or the SU bar but may also include specialist roles such as SU marketing, venue support for live music or even helping with campaigns and representation."

Whatever you end up doing, you'll get more out of it than simply cash in pocket. "It gives you some great skills to enhance your CV and is also a great way to meet new people," says Walkerley.

So where do you find these plum gigs? The best bet is to take a look at the union website or talk to your uni's recruitment service. Be quick though. Look out for details during welcome week and apply early – they can be quite competitive!


Tilly Sherwood, 22, studies politics and international relations at Dundee University

What's your job?

"I work at Dundee University Students’ Association (DUSA) as a member of the customer safety team.

How did you get the job?

I applied via our union’s website and went for an interview – they told me later that evening that I had been successful!

What's great about it?

"The hours are flexible so I can work around my deadlines, the team are amazing and I love being able to get to know more people all across campus.

What advice would you give to students looking for part-time work at uni?

Do it! If you’re working at your student union, they will be sympathetic to your deadlines and give you time off when you need it. You’ll get to meet new people and make even more amazing friends – plus I now get free entry to the union if I want nights out when I’m not working! Working at DUSA is the best thing I’ve done so far in my university career – I just love it!

students checking books out the library

Rhys is a third year student in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication at University of East Anglia.

What's your job?

"I work as a welcome information desk assistant – it’s fancy way of saying that I work on reception. I am based the UEA SU office and in the advice service.

How did you get the job?

"UEASU advertises jobs on its website and on Facebook; getting this one involved completing an application form and attending an assessment morning (a group assessment and a one-on-one interview). I was asked questions about how I deal with specific situations, what kind of things I’m already doing in the SU and my non-academic interests outside.

What's great about it?

"Genuinely – I love my job and can’t think of any drawbacks. Everyone that I work with is incredibly lovely. It’s a very supportive environment. I never feel uneasy about tasks that I have to complete – there’s a multitude of people I can ask for help and guidance. I meet a lot of new people every day and there’s a great sense of satisfaction helping students who are having difficulties.

What advice would you give to students looking for part-time work at uni?

"If you’re looking for a job on campus, the SU is definitely the place you should look! There’s a large range of jobs to suit anybody. You can guarantee that people that you’re working with will be people who will support you in your job. It’s such a friendly environment."

four students working in library

Amy Amira, 23, studies MSc Operational Research & Management Science at Lancaster University.

What's your job?

"I work as a solutions team member at the students’ union."

How did you get the job?

"I applied for the job through the university employment and recruitment service which had a vacancy for the role.

What's great about it?

"It's an exciting role that allows me to challenge myself by thinking on my feet in finding solutions for problem situations. I am able to communicate with a range of people both internally and externally. Also, being involved in the union allows for development of not only interpersonal skills but it also allows for me to be creative about my approach to addressing problems at hand.

What advice would you give to students looking for part-time work at uni?

"I would advise students to go for it. I know from personal experience how having a job at university allows you to build confidence, meet new people and develop different sets of skills. I've grown as a person from being a timid and shy character, to the outspoken and more confident person that people recognise me to be.

"It is definitely a challenge but it allows you to manage your time properly and to focus on working on yourself. After all, university is the best place to get experience as you have all the opportunities you need at your doorstep.

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