My top tips to secure a part-time job while studying at University

If anyone asks me what the best way is to make the most of your time at the university, one of my top suggestions would be engage in as many part-time jobs as you can along with other activities like joining various societies or undertaking sports etc. The reason part-time jobs are one of my top suggestions is because having worked in a range of multiple departments at the university such as the University Accommodation Services, Central Welfare Guidance Centre, International Office and Global Engagement Division, Sheffield Mentors, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Sciences and Corporate Communications and Marketing Team at the University, I have come to realise that these part-time employment opportunities helped me develop into a better student as I exercised time-management skills and getting that work-life balance. Not only that, but they also helped me gain the much required employability skills that I would have not been able to gain if I did not engage in any of these part-time work opportunities!

As I always say to all prospective students I meet as an International Ambassador representing the University or as a Psychology Student Ambassador representing my Department – “Although the job is part-time, the experiences and the skill-set that one gains, prepares you largely to do well in your future full-time employment!”

Having stated the importance of engaging in part-time jobs while studying and having gained a substantial amount of experience engaging and bagging multiple opportunities over the last three years myself, here are my top tips for applying and getting your part-time work journey started!

1)  Filter Out Your Interest

As obvious as it sounds, one of the most common mistakes most students make (almost unknowingly) is not focusing on or filtering out what interests them. With part-time work, if you are not interested in the job, it is most likely that you will either underperform in it which risks you losing the job, but also the lack of engagement could mean that you don’t focus on building the skill-set the job had to offer, simply because you lack the required interest.

Engaging in University promotion as a part of my University of Sheffield International Ambassador Role.

Now I do realise that sometimes for various reasons (like being able to pay our bills!) we need to apply to a range of different types of jobs. But as much as you can, try and filter out or pin-down what interests you most, so that you can spend some time doing something you love in the week. You can earn a whole set of professional skills and also add some value to the department/sector you’re working for. Focusing on your interests is always a positive way to start your search for the part-time jobs.

I always knew that I loved interacting with multiple students and undertaking workshops or interactive sessions involving students, working towards university promotions etc., because most of the part-time work I undertook during my three-years involved such type of work. Having filtered out what interests me the most was very useful in this regard because it helped me to figure out the area of part-time jobs I would like to engage in.

2)  Know Where to Look

Now that you have filtered out the area of interest in which you want to secure a part-time work placement, it’s time to know where to look! The easiest answer to that is the University career sites. One of the best aspects I loved about the university when I first came to here was how the university had an amazing and dedicated university career site. As a lot of you might know (as well as for those who did not know) the University of Sheffield Career site is called Career Connect. As I think of it, it is University of Sheffield’s very own LinkedIn platform advertising a range of part-time jobs, both on and off campus (along with graduate and year in industry placements as well). And the best part is that it has an in-built filter-out feature which means you can easily get to only those types of jobs that you wish to do in no time at the click of a button. Most of the jobs that I have applied for has been through the Career Connect website. They are always updating the opportunities on this website, and every job advertised always has a comprehensive description of the role, the pay, shift-durations and also the department that has advertised the job! It’s the perfect level of information to help one decide if they want to make an application for the selected and advertised role.

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Alternatively, another place to search for some part-time jobs and experience could be the career flyers and advertisement around your own department bulletin boards. Although this could vary from department to department, in my best knowledge most departments advertise some form of part-time experiences around their department. A word of caution however for the department advertised part-time jobs could be that most of them might be focused in the area of the department’s respective discipline, which is great in case that you are looking for experience in those respective areas.

And it doesn’t end there as there are loads of jobs advertised in the University of Sheffield JobShop as well.

Finally, another crucial place where you can begin your part-time job hunt are the University Part-time Jobs and Volunteering Fairs! With access to both on and off-campus employers, these part-time job fairs are the best places to have a one on one conversation with the companies or departments that you might be interested to work for. Additionally, what I really like about these fairs is that they happen right at the start of the academic year giving you the chance to explore and get started on the part-time work search straight away, with you not having to wander off without much direction later on.

3) Get Support, Advice and Guidance

This is perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider when you apply for part-time jobs. Most of the part-time jobs that I have applied for (and even in general) will have some sort of an application to fill out, a CV and/or a cover-letter to attach with the application and could also potentially have an interview as a part of the selection process. The role of guidance and support comes here, and the University has services that you can (I know I did!) avail for this guidance and support.

One of the first (and perhaps the best) places to visit for CV, interview, assessment-centre, cover-letter or application writing guidance is the Student JobShop, located on level 3 of the Students’ Union. The staff there are very friendly, experienced and have some great advice and support that they can provide students with. Additionally, the JobShop team has an excellent support for work related inquiries for International Students as well, as they have slightly different working protocols. Whatever the question or query, they have the answer to it. Personally, I remember visiting them multiple times over the last three years and honestly, the advice they gave for interviews and assessment centres proved to be extremely beneficial for me, landing me the range of part-time jobs I did (or am still doing!).

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Additionally, you can always visit the Career Service which also supports students in the similar areas. And if you cannot visit them in person, the Career Service team has a series of online courses specially designed to help you in writing great applications and succeed in interviews just to name a few, which you can avail at your ease!

4) It’s Not always about the Money

As paradoxical as it sounds yes, it is very true! It is not always about the money. There is no denying the fact that getting paid and earning some extra money is always one of the motivators when considering engaging in part-time work, but keeping it as one of the motivators and not making the only motivator is key.

One important thing that my journey doing part-time jobs has taught me is, although I earned money as a part of the jobs I did (although some were not that well paid), what I earned even more was a professional skill-set which will pay off in the long run. I also gained a lot of experience which truly was  invaluable. Undertaking and getting involved in the part-time jobs that I did, changed me inside-out in ways I couldn’t have imagined before beginning University. Thus, work for the experience and the skills you learn.

One amazing way to exercise this is to engage in something called the Taste of Work that the University organises every year. The Taste of Work is a scheme wherein students do not get paid but are placed in one of the Students’ Union Outlets to work for them just to gain experience and skills! It’s a great scheme in my opinion, because not only does it motivate the students to work for beyond economic gains, but also helps you discover areas of work you might have never tried before along with building a body of experience if one doesn’t have any, in order to apply for other jobs in the future!

5) Failure is also a part of the Experience

Failure in terms of rejection from part-time jobs that you applied for is something which is very much possible. I have personally been there, not once but multiple times. However, the key is to take every failure positively and using it as an opportunity to rule out the things that might have gone wrong. Some of the common issues or reasons that can result in a rejected application could be :

–      Lack of appropriate experience

–      Problems in the CV and/or the Cover Letter

–      Underperformance in the Interviews and Assessment Centres

–      Not fitting in with some set and unchangeable criteria’s (for example international or local status?)

Although, there can be many other possible reasons for failure or rejection from an application, these are some of the most common reasons that result in a rejected application.

Having said that, when and if you receive a rejection, it is crucial to see if it is because of the above mentioned reasons or any other reason. The good news is whatever the case, you always have support, advice and guidance (see above). What is even better is that most on-campus part-time job departments are more than happy to provide you with feedback explaining what went wrong with your application, which you can use as a guideline when applying next time.

Finally, one last and most important thing is, do not stop applying after receiving a rejection. It’s more than natural to feel a bit upset, but never stop applying because that’s the only way to get past that failure and learn more about how to make better applications and do well in the interviews. In my personal experience this was one of the best things I did when faced with a rejection and I can proudly say that this attitude help me bag multiple amazing opportunities!

I really hope that some of these tips might help you in getting started on your part-time job journey ?

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