There are many ways to get an extra income if you cannot afford to work ‘normal’ full-time hours. This article will show you what is available and what you should avoid. I will use student time as an example, as a student’s timetable is usually the most ‘inconvenient’ for full-time work and also changes every semester. However, the opportunities outlined in this article can also apply to other demographics, e.g. single mothers.
Whilst at university, students often think that it will be challenging for them to financially support themselves. This is true only if you decide to avoid work and leave dealing with mounting debts until after you leave university. The truth is, it is not that difficult to get a job. However, getting work does require determination and a bit of leg-work. You also have to decide how much work you want to do. There is a myth that if you work during university you will miss out on the social life. That is not true at all. I worked full-time throughout my university years, while doing a very challenging course, and still had time to socialise.
During university most students take up jobs provided by the university itself, such as bar work. Those jobs are designed especially for students and allow you to choose hours that are flexible enough not to clash with you timetable. However, you will find that jobs at university do not pay very well. Most of the time you will be getting the minimum wage, and considering that you will be working only a few hours, you will pay national insurance and taxes after the first £5,035; this is not the best choice of work. Working flexible hours away from the university is not as difficult as you might think. There will be a number of large stores around your university as well as restaurants and these companies primarily employ students, e.g. Waterstones. You will find that the wage is likely to be much higher than within the university and flexible hours will be offered. However, prepare to work weekends.
Another way of working whilst studying full-time is through agencies. Students often make a mistake of signing up only to one agency. Invest time in undertaking applications provided by the agencies as soon as possible, as they will be providing you with work for the rest of the year. Furthermore, with time you will be able to build up your reputation with agencies, which in turn will allow you to get better work during the summer breaks. There are two tricks of getting good work with agencies: call them every three days and ask for higher-paid jobs and I also found that sending little gifts like chocolates to the person who gets you the work is a good path into obtaining higher-paid jobs, as the person is more likely to call you when a job turns up. The majority of the agencies have different branches that deal with different sectors such as catering, administration, retail, etc. Most of those will not require any experience, however, administration work usually pays most. The highest paid administration jobs are in the investment banks but it is unlikely that you will be able to get those jobs during the semester, but try to get them during the summer holidays.
Another type of job that you can get is in a nightclub. Although these types of jobs will not interfere with your educational schedule, it can be very difficult on you physically, because you are not likely to get back from work until 4am. However clubs often pay very well should you decide to work behind the bar, on the door or even in the cloakroom. Furthermore, you are likely to receive tips, around £20-£30 per day. Students who work in a club whilst studying would attend lectures during the day, get some sleep in the early evening, work during the night and get the rest of the sleep during the early morning. The homework should be done between lectures and the early even nap or at the club, while it is quiet.
If your homework does require a lot of time, why don’t you try working on the security desk during the night. You can get sleep in the early evening after the lectures, and do all of your work during the night shifts, which are often from 12am-7am. I found that this type of job offers the most undisturbed environment, which allows you to concentrate. Furthermore, because you are only getting one portion of sleep, it is easier to adjust to them than to the club jobs. If a security job is for you, make sure you sign up to different agencies as soon as possible, as you are likely to have quite a lot of competition.
Summer jobs are an ideal opportunity to clear any debts that you have accumulated during the year (within reason). It is best to get work that is related to your course (if you want get a course-related career afterwards), but you might find that getting course-related experience may not pay you very well or even at all. Therefore, you might also need to get a second job in the evenings to bring in sufficient income. It will be extremely difficult on you physically to get club or security jobs if you are working during the day as well. However, try getting waitressing work. Once again, a large number of agencies specialise in this industry, so sign up to as many as possible. Furthermore, there might be some work available in the pubs behind the bar. Try these, however your people skills will be tested, as you are faced with a lot of competition for the pub jobs. An easier job, but not as well paid, is working on reception desks in hotels. The work is also divided into shifts so you will be able to work the evening shift.
If you are good at writing and have a good academic record, you can also work for different assignment websites, e.g. http://www.coursework4you.co.uk. This company will provide you with a list of works that you will need to research and write, outlining the deadline, number of words, the topic and the price. If you are happy with all of the requirements, then you agree to write the work and once you finish they will send you the agreed amount. I used to work for them during my university years and earned £500-£700 per week on a part-time basis. However, bear in mind that the quality of work that you need to produce is high. The great thing is that you earn as much as you wish, in your own time, writing on the subjects that you are comfortable with. Furthermore, the staff are really friendly and reliable, so if you have any questions they always help you out, unlike many other companies out there.
If you want just good experience, which is not necessarily related to your future career but pays well, get an internship at an investment bank. The competition is tough for these internships, and you will need to apply about eight months prior to starting. However, if you cannot get an internship job at the bank, try temping. There are a number of agencies that specialise in getting temping jobs just within investment banks, and prior experience is not always required. Other industries, although not as well paid, offer internships, such as insurance companies and financial service companies, e.g. Bloomberg. You will need to investigate if a temping job at a large organisation will pay you better than getting an internship. Internship is likely to offer you better experience, while temping might pay you more, so which one you go for will depend on your priorities. Summer jobs are also available abroad, primarily at skiing resorts (most of them are open during the summer). If you do decide to go for this type of work, pay attention to the accommodation details. Most of the work will offer you cheap self-catering accommodation to go with the job; if not, you will need to undertake some research. Other things to take into consideration are taxes and work permit requirements in the foreign countries. If you get work through an agency, they are likely to sort that out for you.
There are certain jobs that you should steer clear of. Try to avoid getting work via internet schemes, such as survey filling. The worst ones are those that require you to invest your own money first – do not do that. If you do get too tempted to enter this type of work, please read the reviews on this company and the product first. There are some legitimate businesses on the internet but most of these will require you to send in your CV, covering letter and education certificates before you can start work. For internet businesses, you will have to register yourself as being self-employed and declare your earnings when the Inland Revenue sends you the self-assessment form. This in turn means that you might be required to pay all of the taxes in one lump sum, so you will need to save.
Finally, remember that you can only get a positive account balance if you are not overspending. If you are expectingto pay taxes at a certain time during the year – put the money that you earn in a high-interest savings account, or a cash ISA. Pay off your most expensive credit and store cards first, or transfer the balances to 0% balance transfer credit cards.
Prior to leaving summer jobs, make sure you get references from your bosses. Large organisations only provide standard references, which state when you started and left work and how many sick days you have taken. Therefore, you need to ask for a personal reference from your boss. Get as many references as possible and put them in a safe place – you will need them in the future.
Money Extra 2006, “Expert financial advice & planning pensions, investments & tax” [Available from]: [ (Accessed on: 10/11/06)