The big question when you start uni or college: How can I make money while studying?
Especially now with the cost of living crisis, it’s becoming harder to not only manage regular bills but also afford to enjoy the best parts of student life. One way to lessen the weight of money stress as a student is to find ways to make extra income.
However, finding ways to make money that fit in with university life is no easy task. For one, you’re studying, which means your time is limited. And if you have other priorities like childcare, it can be even harder to fit work within an already busy schedule.
This means it’s important to find part-time and flexible work so that you can earn without it negatively impacting your learning.
Part-time and flexible work options while studying
Many universities and colleges offer part-time job opportunities right on campus. These can include positions at the library, Students’ Union, Student Services or as a research assistant. On-campus jobs are often flexible with your university timetable so you can earn some side income without worrying that you’ll miss a lecture!
Get in touch with your Student’s Union, ask Student Services or search your university’s career services page to find out what jobs are available on your campus. These jobs can be a great starting point if you haven’t had much work experience, but will also be a good match for those who already have some jobs on their CV!
Hospitality or retail work
Retail, hospitality and customer service roles are always good options for working while studying. While these jobs may not be directly related to your field of study, they can help you develop a lot of transferable skills you will be able to leverage later in your career. ‘Soft skills’ like time management, interpersonal skills, commitment and teamwork are invaluable in the long run, and always come in handy no matter what career route you choose to pursue.
These may be less flexible than other work options, as you’ll likely need to commit to a minimum number of shifts. So, finding a workplace where you can keep your manager informed of your schedule so you can balance your work with your studies should enable you to work around your other priorities.
Check out websites like Indeed or pop into workplaces in person - the days of CV-dropping are not over, especially in the hospitality business that is still recovering from the impact of Covid-19. When you decide to visit potential workplaces, make sure you look presentable and know what to say in advance, as though it were an interview.
If you have skills in writing, graphic design, programming or any other marketable skill, freelancing is a great way to earn on the side. The freelancer market is popular and, therefore, saturated, so it is a good idea to look for ways to make you stand out.
Here are some starting points:
Build a personal or business website promoting your services and showing your skills
Get a portfolio of work (you can do work for friends and family if you don’t have any experience)
Leverage social media, such as LinkedIn, for networking and showing your work (as a bonus, if your skill is writing - platforms like LinkedIn, Substack and Medium offer online writing features, so you can get your work seen by more people - and sometimes even get paid)
Network - Networking doesn’t have to happen online. Go to networking events or ask for introductions from friends and family - make sure they know what services you can offer. Sign up to websites like Upwork and Fiverr where you can find remote gigs that fit your schedule
Internships, apprenticeships and work placements
Another option for how to make money while studying is to look for paid internships, apprenticeship programmes or work placements.
Note: This is primarily for students with little-to-no experience, so feel free to skip to the ‘Paid research opportunities’ section below if you’ve got some jobs already under your belt!
What’s the difference between each of these options?
Apprenticeships are formal, employer-led schemes that involve working for the business while they also pay for an educational qualification. You’ll get 80% on-the-job learning led by the employer, and then 20% off-the-job learning led by an approved and accredited training provider. It's a great way to earn while you learn for qualifications level 2 all the way to level 7!
Apprenticeships typically last between one and five years (depending on the level).
Internships are when you’re employed by a business to learn entry-level skills and get exposure to the industry. These programmes are short-term (almost always under a year, but usually only a few months or weeks). Internships can be part-time or full-time, regardless of the working arrangement. While doing the internship, you become a temporary employee of the business and the idea is that you integrate fully into their specific team/your role.
Work placements are typically completed during a ‘sandwich’ year as part of your university or college degree. Work placements are a great way to dip your toes in the water of the company or industry.
Internships, apprenticeships and work placements are all highly competitive, so it’s important to find ways to stand out before applying - whether that’s through volunteering, work experience, extracurriculars, or side gigs.
Paid research opportunities
If you're studying in a research-intensive field, ask your lecturer or department head about paid research opportunities. These positions can offer both income and help deepen your understanding of your subject.
These are especially good opportunities if you’re a mature student or a few years into your degree. There’s often participation criteria, so be sure to check out the requirements in advance and apply early.
Other opportunities for working while studying
Tutor other students
If you’re passionate about and/or excel in a specific subject, you can offer tutoring services to other students at your university or college. You can also tutor students either at GCSE or A Levels, which will come much easier if you’ve studied that particular subject. It will also look great on the CV. 🤓
Learning how to teach others is another great ‘soft skill’ which you’ll be able to apply to any industry you go into after your tutoring days are over!
Become a social media influencer
Are you the kind of person that other people describe as ‘charismatic’? Maybe it’s time to look into that influencing career ✨.
While being an influencer is much harder nowadays with such a saturated social media market, it can also be a great option for flexible side income – if you can find your niche or audience! You can monetise your content through ads, affiliate marketing and sponsorships on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube.
This kind of side gig won’t happen overnight - and it’s not guaranteed to happen either - so it may not be the most reliable source of income while studying. But if that is still something you have been pondering about every evening, then check out Hubspot’s advice on how to become an influencer.
Sell your art or monetise your hobbies
If you're artistically inclined, you can sell your creations on platforms like Etsy or at local craft fairs. Building a brand on social media can also help you in this area as it’ll give you a platform to share and sell your work.
Start by figuring out creative ways to market your art and build a community around that. Most people want to feel like they’re part of something rather than being sold to.
How to balance work and study
Balancing work and study is not easy. It can often feel like a tug-of-war between priorities.
That’s why it’s important to try to plan ahead with key dates, exams and assignment deadlines. If you let your employer know in advance, they’ll be able to work around your schedule.
If you’re working for yourself as a tutor or freelancer, be sure to also communicate with your clients so you don’t lose them during those busy seasons.
This is when to-do lists can come in handy. ✍️
Whether you prefer to jot things down by hand or add them to a calendar, find a way that works for you and stick to it.
If you struggle with time management, or if your mental health is struggling as a result of balancing work and study, speak to a counsellor or advisor on campus. You can also speak with your university or college student support service, as they may have resources that can help you. Organisations like Student Minds and NHS Mental Health Services can also help.
Blackbullion also has lots of resources to help you manage your finances during term time or access additional funding you might be eligible for.
While studying can be financially challenging, there are many ways to make money as a student and these are just a few. From part-time jobs and internships to online ventures, explore your options and find one that best fits your skills, expertise and availability.
By finding part-time and flexible work, you can hopefully earn money in a way that gives you the headspace to focus on your degree or program.
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