How and why to get work experience

So why is work experience so important?

  • It means you can earn money during your studies
  • You’ll gain skills valued by future employers (e.g. commercial awareness, initiative, team work)
  • You can build relevant experience for your future career
  • You’ll find out what an industry / job role is like in reality
  • It helps to build your network / contacts

What can I do?

It can be challenging to find part-time work that is linked to your degree or the sector you would like to work in after graduation. Many students combine their part time job with some volunteering and work experience (e.g. internships and work shadowing) to earn money as well as gain valuable relevant work experience.

For a wide range of part-time, internship and work experience vacancies visit careers.qmul.ac.uk/jobs

Roles on campus and in the local area

There are many part-time opportunities on campus, from Student Ambassadors and Library Shelvers, to residential, café, and bar staff. See the work experience hub to explore the variety of ways (paid and voluntary) you can develop your experience on campus. For jobs within the Student’s Union see: www.qmsu.org/jobs/

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Make the most of your summer work

trees-1789120_960_720At the start of term and in the sudden cold and rainy weather, the summer can feel like a distant memory. But don’t forget about what you got up to over the holidays because you may well have gained some useful skills and experiences for your CV.

It’s impressive to employers if the examples you use in your CV are quantifiable and specific, so it’s worth making a note now of the abilities you developed over the summer (before you forget the details!) so that you can use them in future applications.

Part-time jobs: Did you work in a bar or in retail or help out in a friend or relative’s business? All part-time work, even casual work, is useful in developing transferable skills. You might be able to use examples from your summer job to demonstrate that you have good communication skills, experience of customer service, or have worked as a reliable and responsible member of a team, for example.

Voluntary experience: Many skills that are valued by employers can be developed during voluntary work. Don’t discount summer volunteering because it is unpaid and for a limited time period; think about the specific tasks you undertook and the experience you gained. Did you do admin work or update databases? Did your voluntary work help you to develop problem-solving ability or experience of independent working on a particular task? Did it give you insight into a particular field or organisation?

Don’t forget we can give you feedback on your CV – call 020 7883 8533 to book a 1-2-1 appointment.

How to succeed finding part-time work with QTemps

What is QTemps? QTemps is our on-campus recruitment service specifically for QMUL students and graduates, and is a great way of earning money whilst gaining meaningful work experience. Our part-time and one off jobs are mainly for students. As Queen Mary University is a London living wage employer we don’t work on any jobs that pay less than £9.75 per hour.

Where are the jobs located? Most of our roles are internal, working with different academic schools and departments, whilst others are in and around East London. Recently we’ve had a lot of tutoring roles with local schools, which pay around £14.00 per hour.

How many hours a week will I work? We get jobs that are anything from just 1 hour only to other roles that started in 2012 and are still going!

Sounds great, what’s the catch? The only thing to bear in mind is that we get a lot of applicants for our roles (sometimes over 200!), so it’s important to make sure your CV is up to date. To increase your chances of being successful, make sure the education section is updated to say you are studying at QMUL, as the service is specifically for students and graduates at QMUL!

Any other advice? READ THE ADVERT! If the advert says you have to be available every Wednesday, for example, please only apply if you are available, as you will not be successful otherwise.

What have other students said?

”I have gained huge amounts from my placements. It allowed me to build up workplace skills and knowledge while studying.” Christina Govier, BA Politics Student.

”QTemps makes it much easier to get in contact with companies and the recruitment process is very simple. It provides a great opportunity to gain valuable skills and improve your CV for future jobs.“ Rafael Alves Sa, MSc Software Engineering Student.

How do I apply? Start by updating your CV*, then upload it and register on our website: http://tempjobs.london.ac.uk/QueenMary/Login.asp

*Not written a CV before or struggling to update it? Book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants by calling 020 7882 8533 and see our online resources for further information.

If I’m stuck who do I contact?

For further information, contact us at: qtemps@qmul.ac.uk

Full time study and part time work – is it really possible?

As university fees keep rising and the opportunities for fully-funded scholarships fall, it becomes important for some that they are able to work. However, university can be quite demanding and the idea of working could seem like an extra burden. So here’s my list of 5 top things to consider when balancing study with part-time work.

Flexible work patterns

  • When looking for appropriate part-time work it’s important you find an employer that can accommodate flexible work patterns. This may include shift work, or a set amount of hours you have to complete during the whole week, without set days. Many students of all levels take on waitressing or jobs as shop assistants, as these types of roles often rely on as-and-when workers who sign on to shift-work.
  • Flexible work is also a great way to work around university timetables or work during long holidays or a couple of days during reading weeks (if you have them).
  • However, flexible work doesn’t always pay the best and normally entails long shifts working which means long hours on your feet!

Know your timetable early on

  • It’s always good to know what days you will be at university. This is important not just for you to do your work and study, but it will also help you to visualise when you could realistically work.
  • Some departments are able to send finalised second term timetables before you officially commence or have apps that will allow you to see what days your modules may be on. Although, these timetables may be subject to some changes, it gives you a good indication of what days you will be in.

Be open with your employer

  • Make it explicit what days you can and cannot do. This is really important when balancing part-time work and study. It sets the parameters around your availability and would avoid any back and forth with your employer.
  • However, as we know, university timetables can be quite unpredictable, with tutors going away on leave or sudden lecture changes. Still, endeavour to inform your employer of any upcoming changes so they can work out whether they can accommodate this or not.

Be strict with time

  • Being strict with your time is very important if you are going to successfully balance work and university. Both can be quite overwhelming, and can easily affect one another if not planned out well.
  • A good way of doing this would be making use of a diary to record plans for the week which will help you follow a structure. For the more tech savvy of us, there are also great online diary apps such as Penzu or Diaro which allow you to sync your online diary to any web browser and tag entries so you can easily refer to them.
  • Utilise mobile calendars that will alert you when any appointments are coming up or reminders to complete a task.

Be conscious with your holiday

  • If you’re working part-time it’s good to be aware that you won’t receive much holiday and it is worth checking before you sign any contracts. Many part-time jobs work on a pro–rata basis which means your pay and holiday will be proportional depending on how many hours you work. E.g. for a full time job working 35 hours a week with 30 days of holiday, a part-time job which is half the number of hours would only get half the holiday allowance.
  • It’s also wise to only book off holiday when you really need it so you’re not missing too many days off work. No one wants to come back to an inbox brimming with emails!

Also don’t forget to check out QMUL’s QTemps, for part time and temporary work for students and graduates http://tempjobs.london.ac.uk/QueenMary/index.asp

Aseosa Uwagboe

Student story: make your part-time job work for you

Like many students I could not afford to study unless I had a job. I’m in my third year, and the chilling realisation of ‘the real world’ is looming. I’ve emerged blinking into the blinding lights of numerous graduate schemes and initiatives and feel woefully underprepared. I blame this partly on naivety, but mostly on my absence of free time. I want to get a first – thus every moment I’m not ‘on the clock’ I’m putting in the hours at the library.

So now I’m in this position how do I demonstrate relevant work experience to an employer?

There will be many of you, like me, who look at the vast, gaping hole in the ‘relevant experience’ part on your graduate applications and feel like crying. In my darker moments, I wonder why any employer would pick the girl from the coffee shop over the girl who has done one million internships. Well, I’m about to tell you.

Take the time to look at your part-time job. The fact you have managed to keep popping into work and focussed on your degree is an achievement in itself. Pat yourself on the back – you’ve earned it. So look right there is a little thing called ‘time-management’ (essential in any field of work) on the job description. Think up a great example of when this has been crucial and tick that off the list!

Now remember what you are actually doing at work. Most student part-time work is customer-service based. Congratulations, you little social-networker – what you are practicing every shift shows you have excellent ‘communication skills’. In the real world of work, these will be essential all the time. You will be able to build relationships with clients and workers effectively and easily.

Take a look at the person next to you – your co-worker. Are they your friend? Your enemy?  Your lover? (naughty!) Whatever relationship you have, the fact that you work together effectively reveals your ability to ‘teamwork’. Being able to ignore their screechy laugh and humour them when they show you the umpteenth picture of their cat means you will be able to work toward a team goal without irritating each other. Well done you tolerant lot.

Is your work fast paced? Well that shows that you are driven. Work in sales? Then you are target orientated and used to working under pressure.  More creative? Then you are ideas led. You get the idea, people.

Essentially what I am saying is that you must make the most of your part-time work. There are plenty of graduates who have the luxury of time and money to complete ‘relevant’ unpaid placements, and they are your competition. However, does this actually make them any better? You have to convince your potential employer how and why your seemingly irrelevant job actually reveals your inner strengths in the same way a placement would.

Well I hope that this piece puts the fire in your belly to succeed. Take your part-time job and make it work for you, fellow students – you’ve earned it.

Managing your finances at uni

Planning a budget can really help you manage your finances while you’re at university. This animated film, created by QMUL Advice and Counselling, has tips on maximising your income, identifying possible shortfalls, and creating your own budget plan.

And if you think you are going to need a part time job while at uni, come and talk to the Careers & Enterprise Centre. We can talk to you about where to look for part time work, help your with your CV and/or job application and even give you a practice interview. We get extremely busy once term starts at the end of September, so the sooner you are able to come in and speak to us, the better!

Everything you need to know about part-time work: part I, where to look

It’s the question we get asked the most between now and Christmas: how do I find part-time work? So here are my hints and tips about how to find a job for when you are studying at QMUL.

On Campus

So there are a few places you can look for work on campus:

QMSU – the Students’ Union is responsible for the hiring of students in the cafes, the gym, shops, Drapers Bar etc.

HR department – this is where you’ll find jobs in the library, IT department and any office/admin roles that might be suitable for students.

QTemps – for temporary work on campus (and a lot of interesting roles off campus too). These roles are specifically for QMUL students.

Around Campus

Now, while everyone would prefer a job where they can role out of bed at 1pm and be in work in 5 minutes, you need to bear in mind that there are thousands of students at QMUL who want part-time work and only a limited number of jobs in the Library, cafes etc. So to have the best chance of securing work you need to look off-campus too.

The great thing is that you will be living in London where there are literally hundreds of jobs available if you know where to look. Firstly, everyone should check out Job Online which is our jobs board and at the last count had over 2,240 jobs on it, both full and part-time.

It takes 4 minutes on the tube from Mile End to Stratford where there is a very large shopping complex with lots of retail outlets, restaurants and coffee shops. It also takes about 20 minutes from Mile End to Oxford Street and all the shops there. Canary Wharf and Liverpool Street are each less than 15 minutes away, giving access to a variety of office/admin/secretarial jobs.

Think Outside the Box

Having spent almost ten years as a student (don’t ask!) I’ve had a lot of part-time jobs in my time. I’ve worked in Next, HSamuels, Debenhams, Marks and Spencers, French Connection and Waterstones. I’ve also worked in a night club, two call centres, been a tutor, done temp bar and waitressing work in hotels, race courses and football stadiums. I’ve even been one of those people in the toilets in a bar who give you perfume and sweets (again, don’t ask!)

My point is, if you really need to work to support yourself during you studies, think outside of the box. Some jobs may not be particularly glamorous, but the hours are flexible and the pay is relatively good. Also have a think: do you have any skills or experience that somebody might want to pay you to learn? In which case, you could may be able to freelance as a tutor/writer/fitness instructor/musician. And if you’re not sure about how to go about freelancing, you can always have a chat with us.

Just be careful about avoiding any scams. Basically, if anything looks to good to be true it probably isn’t!

Timing is Everything

As we come up to Christmas, shops, restaurants and bars will all be looking to take on extra staff. And when I say Christmas period, big retailers can start their recruitment as early as October and keep you on until after the January sales. After January it would be harder to find retail roles because most places would have kept on any of the temp staff that they want to keep.

On the other hand, most offices will be winding down towards Christmas, and so won’t be looking to hire before then. But come the New Year when things start getting going again, people will start to think about any staffing issues they have.

Likewise, during the summer lots of tourist attractions take on extra staff as London becomes heaving with people coming to see the sights. The Christmas period won’t be so busy, but people will still be going to the theatre, to see pantomimes etc.

If you think carefully about the period in which you are looking for work and how this effects different sectors you can make your job hunting much more effective.

In part two I’ll be giving you some tips for when it comes to applying for a part-time job.

Heather Campbell

Careers Information Assistant