The best jobs you can do at uni...and how to get them

waiting staff with trays of drinks

Perfect job opportunities await at the students' union

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 Lydia Newton, higher education adviser at the 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 Lydia. "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 Lydia.

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!

Students chatting

Customer safety team member for student union

Tilly Sherwood studied politics and international relations at Dundee University

What was your job?

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

How did you get the job?

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

What was great about it?

"The hours were flexible so I could work around my deadlines. The team were amazing and I loved 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.

students checking books out the library

Welcome information desk assistant for student union

Rhys studied in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication at University of East Anglia.

What was your job?

"I worked as a welcome information desk assistant – which was a fancy way of saying that I worked on reception. I was based in 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 was already doing in the SU and my non-academic interests outside.

What was great about it?

"Genuinely – I loved my job and can’t think of any drawbacks. Everyone that I worked with was incredibly lovely. It’s a very supportive environment. I never felt uneasy about tasks that I had to complete – there was a multitude of people I could ask for help and guidance. I met a lot of new people every day and there was a great sense of satisfaction helping students who were 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

Solutions team member at student union

Amy Amira studied MSc Operational Research & Management Science at Lancaster University.

What was your job?

"I worked 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 was great about it?

"It was an exciting role that allowed me to challenge myself by thinking on my feet in finding solutions for problem situations.

"I was able to communicate with a range of people both internally and externally. Also, being involved in the union allowed for development of not only interpersonal skills but also allowed 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 grew 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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