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Top tips for working while at university

Jobs, employment types and contracts

According to the NUS 59% of students will work while they are studying. There are lots of different kinds of jobs, contracts and job types, so Acas has prepared some tip tips to make sure you know all you need to before you start.

Part-time work

A part-time job can help you gain skills that a university degree might not teach you. You can learn about team working or developing customer skills, as well as using your initiative and developing attention to detail. These are valuable skills that help you stand out when it comes to applying for jobs after university.

Many students take on part time work for personal finance reasons, so it's important to check your contract and see how much you are being paid. You can find out more here.

Part-time workers receive holidays based on the hours they have worked, comparable to full-timers. This must be detailed in your employment contract. Check with your manager if you have questions. More info here.

  • Overall, you must be treated no-less favourably than a comparable full time worker. This usually means getting a proportionate share of any entitlements and not being treated unfairly because you are working part time.
  • Through part-time work, you learn how to communicate with a variety of people from different walks of life learning about cultural differences and sensitivities in the workplace.
  • You will build a network of contacts with the referees from your previous jobs and also with co-workers.

What's gig working and what are zero hours contracts?

A zero hours contract is a type of contract where hours are not fixed each week. This might be attractive to students if they are studying, need a flexible schedule and are not looking for permanent work.

  • It can also sometimes mean that employers don't offer as many hours as you need or would like. You should be aware that your employment rights may not be as secure as more permanent types of work so it's always useful to talk to an employer about this before signing a zero hours contract.

Gig work usually means you are paid for the amount of 'gigs' you do which might be anything from delivering food to handing out marketing samples.

  • It's important to check what sort of contract you have here because some types of gig work are self-employed and some mean you are a worker or an employee. This may not sound like a big deal but the various different types of employment status can determine whether you are entitled to basic workplace rights like being paid the national minimum wage or paid time off work.

More information is available here.

What do I need to know before I start my job?

It can be an exciting time starting a new job but it can also feel  a little daunting, if so don't worry. There are certain things that you can do and expect to help you feel more relaxed.

  • Getting there on time and at the right place is essential, the place of work may be different from where you went for the interview, so double check first, and leave extra time to make sure you're not late.
  • You may be asked to wear a uniform or the workplace may have a certain dress code that is expected, this should be in your contract and explained to you before you start.
  • You should expect an induction when you're welcomed into a new organisation. This should include explaining your duties and introducing you to the rest of your team. If you're not sure how to do something or why you're doing it then ask your supervisor or a colleague.
  • You should receive a basic hourly rate in your new job. You're also entitled to a pay slip which explains how much you've earned and shows any deductions that have been made such as tax.