8 Part-Time Jobs for School Students and How to Make the Most of Them

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Image shows a barista pouring coffee.

If the current level of competition for jobs has you worried, rest assured that there’s plenty you can be doing even now to lay the foundations for a successful job application when you graduate.

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We covered many of them in a previous article, but this time we’re going to focus on one in particular: part-time jobs. Providing they don’t impinge too much on your study time, part-time jobs are the perfect way to gain valuable work experience while you’re still at school or university. Do beware that some schools and universities have rules regarding the amount of hours students there are allowed or recommended to work; these have been put in place with your best interests in mind so it’s advisable to stick to them. Assuming that you’re not going to work more than is advisable for your studies, in this article we’re going to look at different kinds of part-time jobs and how you can use the things you learn from each of them to your advantage when you’re applying for your first ‘grown-up’ job.

General benefits of a part-time job

Image shows a bright red 'help wanted' sign in a shop window.
There are a variety of ways to find jobs, from searching on the internet, to listings in local newspapers. Sometimes, it’s worth just going in to a business with a CV and asking.

Before we go into the specifics, we’ll start by outlining some of the major benefits of getting a part-time job while you’re still at school or university.
Transferrable skills – part-time jobs develop numerous transferrable skills that you can take with you to the world of work, including the oft-cited teamwork, the ability to cope under pressure, organisational skills and so on. These invaluable life skills mean that your part-time job doesn’t even need to be directly related to what you want to end up doing – you’ll be able to relate them to any profession you choose to pursue.

Extra pocket money – you can look forward to earning some money for yourself, which is a lot more satisfying than simply being given pocket money by your parents. You’ll be able to spend it on yourself knowing that it’s your own hard work that has paid for it, or you can save it and start a university fund to make life easier for yourself when you have to handle your own university living expenses.

Change of scene – a part-time job will prove a refreshing change from home and school, and it gives you an all-important break from studying as well. This allows you to return to your studies refreshed, because as they say, a change is as good as a rest.

Meet new people – whatever part-time job you choose, you’re likely to be meeting lots of new people, both colleagues and customers. This gives you the chance to develop your interpersonal and communication skills, which will prove indispensable in the workplace.
Understand how businesses operate – no matter how minor your role in your place of part-time work, it will give you an insight into how businesses operate, the pressures they face and the considerations involved in making money. This perspective will allow you to be sympathetic to a business’s concerns when it comes to your job interview; showing that you understand what they’re up against demonstrates how switched on you are and is sure to impress your interviewers.
Introduces you to the world of work – a part-time job is a relatively gentle introduction to the world of work and will familiarise you with things like payslips, tax codes and so on. If you’ve had a part-time job, it won’t seem quite so scary when you get your first full-time job. What’s more, you’ll start paying National Insurance Contributions early, working towards your State Pension. It may seem a long way off, but with pensions the way they are, starting now will pay off long-term.
Let’s now look at some specific part-time jobs you could get and the benefits each specific job confers.

Image is a button that reads, "Browse all Careers articles."1. Waiter or waitress

Image shows a waitress taking a couple's orders.
The addition of tips can make your wage fluctuate considerably. It’s worth finding out, for instance, if tips are kept individually or pooled among the staff.

Many A-level and university students obtain part-time work as waiters or waitresses in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, sandwich stalls and other eating and drinking establishments. This work can be physically demanding, as it involves carrying sometimes heavy trays of food and drinks around without spilling anything. But it’s not the physical strength you’ll benefit most from if you take a job as a waiter or waitress.
At the heart of this job lie customer service skills; it’s vitally important to be able to communicate effectively with customers, adopting a patient and pleasant manner even with the rude ones, and being friendly and helpful. You’ll master the difficult task of handling complaints, as well as handling payments. What’s more, in a busy cafe, restaurant or bar, you’ll develop the ability to cope under pressure, with many demands on your time as you service multiple tables and make sure everyone gets their meals in good time. As you become more experienced, you may be expected to train up new members of the team – great practice for a future team leader role. It’s a hard job at times, but it’ll pay off in the skills you’ll be able to demonstrate to future employers – and in the extra money you bring in from tips.

2. Retail worker

Image shows an old-fashioned sweetshop.
Ideally, pick a shop that sells something about which you’re enthusiastic – it’ll help in your interview.

Part-time work in a shop develops many of the same skills as being a waiter or waitress, but with a few differences. Customers are in a different mode when they go to a restaurant to how they are in a shop, and as such, the skills you’ll need are a little different. Unlike restaurants, many people go into shops merely to browse; your role as a shop’s floor assistant will require you to develop sales skills, through which you’ll encourage people to buy. Shops are often working to sales targets, to which you will be contributing, and this may even be worked into your own personal targets set by your employer. At the same time, shoppers don’t like being harassed by pushy assistants, so you’ll need to fine-tune your sales skills to strike the right balance between helpful and encouraging and giving the customer the hard sell. Such skills stand you in good stead for a huge range of roles, with sales and customer service being crucial elements of pretty much any business. It may not feel like it at the time, but the skills you pick up in a retail sales assistant job could even prepare you for a far more high-flying role, such as a financial trader.

3. Babysitter

Image shows a toddler looking at a dandelion.
Babysitting experience is also immensely valuable if you want to work with children in future, such as by becoming a teacher.

You might think of it as nothing more than a way of generating a little extra pocket money, but you can use babysitting experience to your advantage by using it to showcase how trustworthy and dependable you are. Taking care of someone else’s child is an enormous responsibility, and job applications frequently require you to demonstrate positions of responsibility. That you are entrusted with childcare clearly shows you to be someone upon whom other people can rely, and that makes you an asset to any business.
What’s more, they don’t give the advice “never work with children or animals” for no reason: the unexpected can and often does happen when you’re working with children, so your early experiences of babysitting can be used to show how you’ve coped with unanticipated challenges or crises. Employers want to know that you’re someone who doesn’t just rely on being told what to do; they want someone with ingenuity, who can use their own judgement and common sense to make decisions about how to handle a new situation or provide a novel approach to an existing one. Babysitting doesn’t just require you to deal with the unexpected; with bored children in your care, you’ll have to use your own creativity to come up with ways of entertaining them. You can even, therefore, use your babysitting experience to demonstrate another sought-after quality: creativity.

4. Volunteer work

Image shows a rescue dog looking through the bars of his cage.
From working in a charity shop to volunteering in an animal rescue shelter, there are lots of valuable volunteer and charity jobs out there.

You may not get paid for it, but volunteer work lets you help out a good cause at the same time as building up valuable experience for your CV. You’ll gain an understanding of how charities work, and your experiences may even inspire you to pursue a career in this sector. Even if you don’t, skills you gain through fundraising can be applied to other walks of life, while your charity work also shows you to be a compassionate person and someone who’s willing to fight for what they believe in. Through volunteering achievements, you can show your potential employer how brilliant you are when you believe in something; and they will see that energy and passion as something you could harness to benefit their business.

5. Tutor

Image shows a tutor teaching a teenager Spanish.
Tutoring not only gives you valuable skills, it’s also better-paid than a lot of part-time jobs.

It’s all very well being expert at something, but being able to communicate your expertise in a way others can learn from is another matter altogether. Gaining some part-time tutoring work demonstrates you to be exceptionally capable, not just at the subject you’re tutoring, but as a well-rounded potential employee. You need to be a good communicator to be a tutor; you need to be able to convey ideas clearly, in a way that can be easily understood, and that’s a vital business skill – particularly when it comes to selling, when you must be able to explain the benefits of a product or service clearly and concisely. You also need to be a good leader; as a tutor, you’re looked up to, and it’s for you to decide how things should be done. What’s more, you’re organising someone else’s teaching schedule on top of your own, which shows that you’re capable of juggling tasks. A part-time tutoring job demonstrates to potential employers that you can be trusted in a job that involves you training, instructing or mentoring others, placing you firmly in the leadership category and putting you in line for team leader or other managerial roles.

6. Proofreader

Image shows a woman sitting in a park, looking at her laptop.
One of the great advantages of proofreading is you can do it almost anywhere.

Part-time proofreading work can be done from home, and it’s superb exercise for your English skills as well as a great thing to have on your CV. Not only does it demonstrate your superlative English abilities, but it also shows your exceptional attention to detail. This is a quality that will come in handy in all manner of business scenarios, and could save the business you end up working for a few red faces if you spot a typo in its marketing material just before it goes to press. Proofreaders are used to noticing things that other people haven’t, and more importantly, they’re not afraid to point them out; mistakes in company websites, for example. Such mistakes can prove costly to businesses, as they come across as unprofessional and may put customers off; the skills of a proofreader are therefore much in demand. Furthermore, with so many people struggling to write good English, your grammatical skills are certain to be an asset to any company you end up working with in the long run, regardless of how relevant the job is to proofreading itself.

7. Tour guide

Image shows a tour guide in Trafalgar Square, standing elevated from the group to whom he is speaking.
A tour guide working in London.

If you live near a tourist attraction, such as a stately home or a museum, why not become a part-time tour guide? This is an intellectually stimulating part-time job that will require you to learn historical facts that would be of interest to tourists. It requires a good memory and necessitates the ability to tell stories in an engaging way. The ability to tell a story goes beyond its obvious applications; it’s incredibly useful in the world of marketing, for instance, in which telling the story of the business you work for may be vital to selling the idea of it to potential customers. What’s more, a tour guiding job is a good place to practise your language skills, as you’ll almost certainly be encountering people from many different nationalities.

8. Internship

Image shows a young woman shaking hands with an older woman at an internship fair.
An internship can sometimes lead to a permanent job in the same company.

They may not always be paid, but internships provide the opportunity to gain work experience in your chosen career. Such experience may well pay dividends when you leave university and you’re competing with people who may not have this on their CV. There are numerous summer internships available for students like you, and they give you the chance to see what life is like in the job you’re interested in. Not only will this help you make up your mind what you want to do for a career; it will also act as your all-important first step on the career ladder. If you can do this early on, that’s half the battle won.
Do you have a part-time job that you fit around your studies? How do you feel it has it helped you so far? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below!

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Image credits: banner; help wanted; waitress; shop; babysitting; dog; tutor; proofreading; tour guide; internship