How to find Summer Work as a Student in the UK
Your years as a student are often hailed as some of the most exciting in your life, yet there is no denying that they can be quite expensive at the same time. While some students having to fund their entire university fees themselves, others are fortunate enough to have financial support from parents or carers to cover all the educational costs of them furthering their academic development through to graduation.
However, even if the costs of your course and your housing are covered, you will still need to find a way to pay for your food, drink, clothes, entertainment, etc. One of the most popular ways for students to manage this situation is to earn money through some form of part-time employment.
Obviously there are many different ways of working part-time and some students will choose to get evening or weekend work as soon as they start their course, with a view to working little and often throughout term time. Sometimes this can prove too much of a commitment for those with intensive courses, but for others it is a necessity. Whatever your own individual circumstances, it is definitely true that - come the summer and the long break from academic study - getting a job is top of the priority list.
Therefore, this article aims to help all those students who are looking for work over the summer, perhaps for the first time in their lives and will hopefully provide some practical advice about getting started.
When to begin looking for work:
Within reason, it's never too early to start looking for summer work as a student. While the main push from organisations is likely to come closer to the commencement of the summer holidays in June or July time, it will never hurt to have registered your interest with prospective employers before that. The early bird catches the worm, as they say!
Writing Your CV
Some recruitment agencies or companies might simply require you to fill in their applications forms as opposed to submitting a fully comprehensive CV, but it is good practice to have an up-to-date copy of key information and your qualifications, experiences and achievements anyway.
You can use it to work from when filling in application forms and you can take copies with you when you are visiting your high street, ready to to hand in at any retail or service outlets that might be advertising for staff.
Some employers might need copies of your examination certificates in order to back up the statements you have made about your level of education, so if you have these to hand when completing your CV it's worth storing them in a safe, easy to access, place afterwards.
The first step in completing a CV is making sure that all your key information is factually accurate and easily noticeable - you don't want to lose a job because your mobile telephone number is hidden in small print underneath your GCSE results! The following articles offer great advice about completing CVs and the main points that need to be covered.
There are some really useful CV templates available, but it isn't too difficult to create one by yourself using a word processing programme such as Microsoft Word. The formatting and layout of your CV are more important than you might imagine. Put yourself in the shoes of an employer who will be reading tens, if not hundreds, of very similar sounding CVs. You need to make yours easy to follow and as easy for them to see your best points as possible.
At this stage in your career there is absolutely no need for your CV to cover any more than two A4 pages and if you can fit it onto one page (without reducing the font size too much) then all the better. The use of bold text, bullet points and underlining will all aid the employer when it comes to perusing your CV, but make sure that you are consistent throughout the document and that the text you choose to highlight is appropriate for the purpose.
Spelling and grammar are equally as important as formatting and layout and you are likely to need to proofread your CV many times before it is ready to be given out. If possible, ask a few other people to check it for you as well.
At this stage, companies will know that you are not old enough to have vast experience of work, so don't be tempted to lie about your employment history as you will get caught out. For a lot of summer student jobs, the most important qualities people will look for are reliability, punctuality and staying power. You may very well not be doing anything exciting, but if you turn up on time, on a specified day and you stick at a job until its finished, you will be doing exactly what is required.
Where to look for jobs
There are now many ways to search for summer employment as a student and with the advent of the internet, it can much easier than it was in years gone by. While there are still high street recruitment agencies who will be willing to take you on (don't forget that consultants will earn a commission on every person they place into a job), there are also many online organisations that can now help.
Some of the more popular websites promoting summer work for students are:
On all of these websites you are able to sign up for job alerts, so that prospective employers can try and match your interests and experiences to the temporary positions they have available. This does not guarantee that you will end up with your dream job, but it at least allows you to try and find the best possible fit.
You can also specify geographic areas within your online job search on these sites, so that you are only looking through jobs that fit appropriately with where you will be located over the summer. This is an improvement brought about by the internet, whereas previously you would have had to physically visit each recruitment agency in advance. That proved tricky if you were studying a long way away from your home, as your job search couldn't start until you returned and there would inevitably be a delay before employment was found.
Applying online does not mean that you will be able to complete your whole job search on your laptop - you will still need to meet your recruitment consultant or potential employer at some stage prior to starting work with them - but it does mean that you can get some of the early stages out of the way now.
All of these websites should let you register for free, so if you are ever charged a fee then alarm bells should ring with regards to the reputation and intent of the company in question.
The most common student summer jobs
Your summer work as a student could theoretically be doing pretty much anything, but there are some options that are more common than others, in part due to their seasonal nature or high turnover of staff. In light of this fact, it is worth thinking about whether any of this areas of employment would suit you more or less than others so that you can be suitably prepared during your job hunt.
Administrative work in an office
This type of work can encompass a wide range of tasks such as data entry, word processing, mail management, envelope stuffing, etc. It isn't overly exciting but it does mean a lot to the people whose time you will be saving and it also gives you an insight into how offices are run. Many of us will end up working in an office of some description for at least some part of our lives, so it does no harm to take note of how different places operate.
Call centre work
You will either be dealing with incoming calls from people who are already customers of the organisation, or outgoing calls to prospective customers. In either instance you will be working from a script on a screen in front of you and there will be a line manager available should you need support with a particular call.
Many restaurants are more popular over the summer while people are on holiday and children are off school. Day time visits may become more popular, meaning that establishments need to take on temporary staff in order to cope with the increased demand.
If you are dealing directly with the public you will need to remain polite and respectful at all times and be prepared for the fact that sometimes people will be unreasonable even if you feel it is unjust. Customer service is important to every business, but to restaurants, which fit equally within the retail industry and the service industry, it is vital to be able to stay professional. The same goes for working in other retail outlets.
Seasonal agricultural work
While our economy does not revolve around the farming year and the harvest any more, there is still a fair amount of seasonal agricultural work available in this country. Fruit picking and bulb sorting are just two examples of work you might be doing and although it can be hard-going, many people enjoy being outdoors and doing physical work as a complete change from their university life.
For tradesmen such as builders, the summer months are their busiest time of year as the weather means that they can hope to complete many more projects than the winter months will allow. Temporary workers are ideal for them, as they know they will have no obligation to keep them on once the summer is over. This work can be very physically demanding, so bear that in mind when applying.
Summer holiday-related work
The tourist industry is very important in some areas of the country and there are many attractions which desperately need more staff over the summer. Again, customer service skills are paramount here, as you will be dealing with people who are spending their hard-earned holiday time and money visiting your place of work, so the experience needs to be as good as possible for each and every one.
Internships related to your area of study
In the current economic climate, many students are thinking about their future full-time jobs well before graduation, in order to snap up a role that fulfills their desired career goals and sets them off on the right foot. To this end, it might be worth considering an internship for part of your summer holiday.
Internships allow you to go and work for a few weeks or months for a company that you might consider working with full-time once you have your degree. These positions are often, though not always, paid and the combination of career enhancement and financial recompense is such that the world of internships is highly competitive.
If you are interested, here are a few links that might help:
Making up your own job
This might sound ridiculous and it will most certainly take some forward planning, but you might want to consider making your own work for the summer break and beyond. Social media and blogs are becoming increasingly popular in modern society and companies are realising just how influential they can be. If you set up a blog that reaches hundreds or thousands of students, advertisers will be keen to work with you and you might be able to generate an income from it.
You could do paid posts and reviews and the topics you cover could be completely up to you. If you are doing a fashion course you might like to write about fashion, or if you are doing a medical course you could write a funny blog about strange things involved in medical training. You could even just write about student life in general. As long as you are interesting and you have a clear blogging voice, you will find an audience.
Why it pays to do your best
Even though a student summer job may well not provide anything more than just some money to keep you going through your university years, it is definitely something that is worth taking seriously. Going to interviews, writing a CV, being professional with colleagues and customers and even learning new skills - a summer job can give you experience in all these areas and this will set you up beautifully for when you are looking for your 'real' job.
You also never know if one of your summer jobs might lead to something more - a performance-related bonus, an offer of more holiday work next year, a valuable skill to put on your CV or even a contact that could serve you well in your future career, so put your best into it now and you'll get the best out of it later. Good luck!