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Best jobs for full-time students

If you’re heading back to uni, or hitting the lecture halls for the first time this March, you’ll probably already be thinking about ways to make some coin.

Whether you’re paying your own way through your studies, or just need some cash to fund your social life, a student job can bring more benefits than you might first imagine.

According to Deakin’s Manager of Graduate Recruitment Services Gavin Walker, many students forget that while they’re flipping that burger at McDonald’s, or scanning groceries at Coles, they’re gaining skills that will likely be attractive to a future employer.

‘You can say, “I’m in hospitality so I have the ability to deal with awkward customers,” or “I’ve had the ability to train new staff,” or “I can deal with conflict in the workplace,”’ Walker says.

‘Employers will jump all over anyone that works, say, at a McDonald’s or at a Burger King or a KFC because they’re large global organisations. They’ve got really strong systems and processes and procedures so they know you understand how to follow them.’

So what are some of the jobs you could be considering, and what’s the best way to land one?

Combining work and study

First up, it pays to try and figure out how many hours you think you can handle without impinging on your degree.

Walker says that many uni students find jobs in hospitality – including bar, café, restaurant, nightclub and event work. There are also countless opportunities in retail, including clothing, sports, homeware and book stores, along with department stores and supermarkets.

There are also jobs in administration, and an increasing number of opportunities in the ‘gig economy’ that enable you to set your own hours.

For example, you could help assemble an IKEA bookcase, pick up parcels, lend your IT skills or carry out any number of other tasks on Airtasker. Or if you’re over 21 and meet Uber’s vehicle requirements, signing up as a driver might be an option.

You could also manage someone else’s Airbnb, or rent out a spare room for extra cash.

If you’re studying writing or graphic design, for instance, why not practice your skills via Freelancer.com or online marketplace Fiverr? (Though make sure you’re getting paid fairly for your work).

And if you have a particular skill to offer, don’t rule out starting your own business while still at university, even if you’re also doing some part-time or casual work to guarantee a little coin.

'Employers will jump all over anyone that works, say, at a McDonald’s or at a Burger King or a KFC because they’re large global organisations. They’ve got really strong systems and processes and procedures so they know you understand how to follow them.'

Gavin Walker,
Manager of Graduate Recruitment Services, Deakin University

Getting your foot in the door 

For those who already have a career path in mind, Walker highly recommends trying to pick up a part-time role in that environment. If you’d like to work in TV, gun for a job on the station’s reception desk. Or if you’re studying construction or engineering, try some laboring work.

‘It gives you a completely different insight into the environment, and an engineer, regardless of their degree – or a construction management student – won’t walk in and be given a billion-dollar contract to manage,’ Walker says.

‘They’ll walk in and be told, “Right, go and spend six to 12 months on the tools with these guys, see how they work.”’

Many students also forget that while they may be working in a retail store, there’s much more to the company, says Walker.

‘Retail I think is still technically the second largest employer in Australia in its entirety, but people work in a shop for three years part-time and don’t think of the huge, head office-based roles that happen in retail.’

Where to find student jobs

So you’ve brushed up on your interviewing skills and created a schmick CV. Where to from here?

One place to start is Deakin’s own jobs portal, DeakinTalent, which matches Deakin students with employers looking to hire.

Also, Walker says many students often forget that the University itself might be a good place to find work.

‘I’ve got two people in my team who are current students who work two days a week for me part-time (in administration), purely because they asked the question,’ he says.

Deakin is also often looking for staff for events, or in hospitality. Parents of Year 11 and 12 students also regularly contact the university looking for mentors who might be in their first, second or third year of university, Walker says.

Other job websites to browse include Seek, Indeed and SpotJobs. Walker says going through a recruitment agency can also be a great way to build a diverse portfolio of skills – and prove your adaptability.

However the most effective way of finding a part-time job is often simply spreading the word among family and friends, allowing you to skip ahead of the pack, Walker says.

Whatever the job you land, he recommends being aware of your wages and rights.  For more details, check the DeakinTalent or Fair Work Ombudsman websites.

Want to know how to enjoy uni life? Find out the key to enriching your university experience.

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Gavin Walker
Gavin Walker

Manager of Graduate Recruitment Services, Deakin University

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