Guest post by ZenithOptimedia: Student Summer Jobs: the best and worst!

Every student would love to experience university without having to work, but with a student loan funding your studies, living costs and a demanding social calendar, getting a job may be a necessity to keep your student bank account afloat. However, there’s more than just money at stake. Post-graduation can be a stressful time for people as they try to find their way onto the career ladder. In the current economic climate, job opportunities are few and far between, but prospective employers will look more favourably on an applicant who can demonstrate an ability to manage study and work simultaneously.

Business psychology consultant Clodagh O’Reilly said to the Telegraph:

“Academic qualifications will help you progress but won’t get you far on their own.”

The acting head of careers from the University of Nottingham, Jan Perrett also supported this claim by saying:

“It’s important that employers see what students have done other than study.”

University exams tend to finish by the end of June and the next semester commences around the beginning of October, leaving about a three month period where you’re free to work. Nevertheless, some jobs are better suited to students than others. So, what kind of employment should you look for and what should you avoid?

On campus job

Although most students head home for the holidays and campuses become a whole lot quieter, this is also a time when companies are looking for new staff. Since many people who work during the semester take the summer off, positions become available at businesses in the university’s vicinity. If you’re reliable and hardworking then there’s also potential for the employer to offer you part-time hours during the study term. Bar work is the obvious example. If you secure a bar tending job at a venue close to your university then there is every chance that you’ll be able to work full-time hours during the summer months, and then choose to work only weekends during the semester.

Professional career job

When applying for summer jobs, you need to consider what your prospective employer is looking for. There is little point applying for a job that requires a full-time, long-term commitment as you won’t be able to offer this. If you walk out of a professional, full-time job after only a few months it can leave a negative stain on your CV, so save the full-time job for after graduation.

Businesses with a high staff turnover

While a high turnover of staff can be a sign of a poorly managed business, on the other hand it can also mean the company is open to employing short-term workers. Customer service jobs such as waiting tables or working in a call centre are good options because of the amount of staff rotation and the fact that minimal training is required. Also, if you’re interested in a career in a customer- or client-facing role further down the track, this experience will prove invaluable.

Unpaid internship

You’re often told how fantastic internships look on your CV. This is true. Employers love to see you’ve got experience as well as a degree, but while your CV may look better, taking an unpaid internship can actually cost you money in terms of travel and food expenses. Many companies are illegally employing interns because the roles they are given are actually defined by law as ‘work’.  Business minster Jo Swinson told the BBC:

“Across many sectors, like fashion and the media, this has very much been the generally accepted way of doing things.”

It’s up to you whether you think taking an unpaid internship over the summer is worth the expense, but if you’re aiming to save money, this is definitely not a good option. If you can find a paid internship then go for it.

Office assistant role

If you have any kind of office experience, you might want to consider signing up with a temping agency for short-term clerical work. In these kinds of roles you’ll likely be filling in for someone who is on leave, ensuring the business does not suffer from a shortage of staff. This is a great way to attain professional work experience without getting tied into a long-term, full-time role.

 ZenithOptimedia UK, the Live ROI Agency, is a leading media agency that offers the full spectrum of communications planning and media buying on and offline.

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