Should I get a part-time job?

2 December 2020

In this article, UCL alumna and contributor Suriyah shares the benefits and drawbacks of working alongside studying.

part time

During your time at UCL, you may want to find a job alongside your studies. Combining work and your degree can be a valuable experience, but also a hindrance! In this article, I’ll share with you the benefits and drawbacks of work and study, to see if part-time work is a good option for you.

Why get a part-time job?

It isn’t uncommon for students to find themselves in situations where they need a job to support themselves financially. Rent prices in London are some of the highest in the world, so earning a regular income in addition to having a student loan or other funding is often a worthwhile idea. You can also develop your professional skills, and work towards brushing up your CV for life after your degree!

In London, there are plenty of opportunities for part-time, short-term, or casual work. The Union runs JobShop, a regularly updated database of flexible, part-time jobs for students. Over the last few years, I have secured three fantastic jobs at UCL using JobShop, so be sure to sign up to their fortnightly mailing list! There are also opportunities listed from UCL Careers.

International students: it’s important to note that there are restrictions on working in the UK if you are on a Tier 4 visa. Further information can be found in the 'Immigration and visas' section of this website.

What can I do instead?

Paid work often means a high level of commitment on your part, and this can put a strain on your academic life at UCL. During first year, I decided not to work so that I could focus on my priorities - studies, societies, and meeting new people. Here are two alternatives I would recommend:

Voluntary work

If you want to develop new skills and dedicate your time to worthwhile causes, voluntary work is a great way to try something new. The Union’s Volunteering Service provides opportunities for students who want to take part in volunteering projects in the local community, often during evenings or weekends. They currently have a handy guide to volunteering during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Holiday work

What better way to spend the summer than earning some money? Summer jobs and internships provide you with a concentrated work period in which you can focus on developing skills and saving up funds, which often proves even more beneficial than a low-key, part-time job during term-time.

Don't burn yourself out

While having a job is fantastic, be aware of the toll it can have on your academic work. Overworking can lead to an unhappy, exhausted student – make sure that any work you undertake fits around your timetable of studies so your grades don’t suffer.

Quick important links

Finding a job

Visa information for international students

Volunteering Service

Last revised: 8 September 2021

Suriyah Rashid, UCL alumna, BA Language and Culture