The Bartlett


A student’s guide to working a part-time job

by Julian Gooneratne

As the first in my family to attend higher education, one of the biggest concerns I had as an international student was the issue of managing finances. Whilst living in vibrant and busy London (one of the world’s best student cities!) has been incredible, it can be quite expensive. With this in mind, it isn’t uncommon for students to find themselves in situations where securing a job would be beneficial to financially support their lifestyles. 

Working a job alongside your studies not only provides the opportunity to boost your bank balance, but is also a great chance to gain work experience and develop desirable skills that graduate employers hunt for. In also adds structure to your week and allows you to meet new people and make friends. However, it is vital to remember that during your time at UCL, your academic work should be prioritised if you do decide to commit to a part-time job. 

Image of a coffee shop

Finding the job that works for you 

The main things to keep in mind is that you are still a full-time student - therefore, you will want to find a job that is flexible around your studies. This is mostly dependent on who you are as an individual: do you want to focus on studying, joining societies and meeting new people at the start? Will committing to a part-time job put a strain on your life at UCL and burn you out? A lot of students usually wait until the second term to pursue a part-time job to have a better understanding of themselves as students, but this is completely up to you. 

The best place to start looking is on UCL’s own JobShop, run by the UCL Student’s Union. Start local! You’ll be able to find a plethora of part-time, seasonal and temporary work that you’ll be able to flex around your studies, a lot of which are on-campus, such as at UCL’s cafes and bars and for various events throughout the academic year. Another fantastic source is myUCLCareer’s job board

A lot of the time, opportunities for part-time jobs arise from your own academic department or faculty; I was personally able to secure a part-time job as a Bartlett Student Ambassador which has provided me with a vital source of income throughout my first year and allowed me to explore my interests within the built environment. I encourage you to keep your eyes open for anything that comes up relating to your studies at UCL, as you’ll be able to combine both your passion in your degree and support yourself financially at the same time!

Understanding who you’re working for 

It is easy to get carried away in applying for as many jobs as you can - but it is essential that you check the validity of any vacancies and the employer before you take up any work. Before taking on a part-time job, you may have to present documentation to your employer to prove your right to work in the UK (including your biometric residence permit, academic timetable or statement of student status). It is also recommended that you talk to your employer (especially if you are on a Tier 4/Student visa) to ensure that you keep within your permitted working hours and if there is any room for flexibility around your academic studies - especially since your free time will fluctuate towards periods such as examination season. 

The alternatives to working part-time 

Maybe you’ve realised that working part-time isn’t for you - well, fortunately, that isn’t the end all! 

If you want to give back to your local community, gain new skills and build your confidence, voluntary work may be perfect for you. The Union’s Volunteering Directory connects students with rewarding experiences across London, and has grown to become one of the biggest volunteering departments in higher education in the UK. 

As mentioned before (subject to your rights in the UK) you may be able to work full-time during UCL holiday periods, such as summer break. Internships and temporary summer work are a great way to gain valuable work experience, refine your skills, and give yourself an edge in the job market without the stress of academic life weighing down on you. 

About the author

Hey there! I’m Julian, a first year Urban Planning, Design and Management BSc student at The Bartlett. I originally come from Sri Lanka and the Philippines but consider myself to be a ‘third culture kid’, having lived in Vietnam and Indonesia before moving to the UK for my studies.

Julian standing on a street