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Finding a job while at university

Finding a job while at university

It can be daunting to think about adding yet another commitment into your schedule during the university semester. However, if working isn’t already a part of your life, adding casual or part-time employment to your schedule will be good for more than just your bank balance. 

Having a job while studying at university is a great boost for your finances, organisational skills and future employment prospects. Work experience is highly valued by employers and recruiters, as it shows that you understand the dynamics of a workplace and have important soft skills that can be transferred across multiple jobs. Human resources managers often prioritise past work experience above grades and qualifications during the hiring process, making it even more important to have some quality time in the workforce under your belt. 

Looking beyond the obvious monetary benefits of having a job, it can also provide you with valuable life skills such as budgeting and time management. If we have already convinced you to go out and find employment but you have no idea where to start, do read on – we’ve broken down the where, what and how of job hunting so you can net some much-coveted work experience.  

Where can I find a job? 

Knowing where to look for work is the first hurdle to clear in the employment race. Job search engines such as SEEK and Indeed are always a good place to start, or you could consult with a recruitment agency if you need help in searching and applying for work. Your university itself is a tremendous resource – you can look everywhere from noticeboards in student services buildings and libraries to your institution’s careers hub. Many universities have careers portals that you can log into to receive updates on regarding any on or off-campus job vacancies. If all else fails, word of mouth can be a great way to find out about any job openings that may interest you. This could range from helping out with a family member’s business, to following up on a friend’s social media post about a job vacancy at their workplace. 

What jobs should I be looking for? 

The stereotype goes that most university students work in the retail and hospitality sectors – while this is true for the most part, it doesn’t mean that you have to confine yourself to jobs in these industries. However, it is important to keep the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ in mind when on the job hunt. 

Employment in retail and hospitality is attractive to university students due to the relatively flexible hours and potential for discounts. You can work across a variety of areas, from bars, cafes, restaurants, night clubs and events companies, to clothing, sports, homewares, book, department and food stores. If you would like to venture away from the sales floor and into office-based roles, consider exploring administration opportunities. You could look for receptionist or administrative assistant jobs at large companies and landmark buildings, or you could explore the head office roles at popular brands.  

Freelancing can suit those who want to earn some cash but can’t see themselves being tied down to one stream of employment. You can flex your creative muscles in everything from writing to design while simultaneously boosting your portfolio of work. The good old babysitting or house sitting option is always handy, as is dog walking or sitting if you prefer to spend your time with furry friends rather than children. If all else fails, outsourcing sites such as Airtasker could be lucrative, especially if you do not mind completing a random assortment of tasks to earn some coin. 

How do I go for the job? 

The first step you need to take in the job hunt is brushing up your CV to make sure it catches the eyes of recruiters. Give your resumé a refresh by including your most recent and relevant work experience, while highlighting your key skills and abilities. To make sure your CV is as polished as possible, consider asking your most grammatically gifted friend to run their eyes over it before you begin circulating it to local businesses. 

Once you are happy with your updated resumé, it is all about getting yourself out there. Walk around the main streets of nearby suburbs, the local shopping centre or your university campus and personally deliver your CV to businesses. If the owner or hirer is working, try and engage them in a brief introductory chat if they have the time. Do not be afraid to hand your resumé in anywhere and everywhere – you never know what opportunities may pop up when you take a chance.   

If your job hunting efforts happen to draw out an interview, consider practicing your professional conversation skills with a trusted friend or family member. You can practice answering commonly-asked interview questions to ensure that you are responding in a confident and friendly manner.