8 Ways to Work While Studying and Not Wait for Graduation

Ever heard this joke: “hiring entry level applicants, minimum three years of previous experience”. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between good grades and working during your studies and you can have a good education and some work experience on the side.

In fact, most international students need to hold some kind of job to cover at least some of their living or study expenses. So, no worries, you can do this! Here are 8 ways to consider:

1. Part-time job

A part-time job is a great way to cover your study expenses and depending on how well-paid the job is, you can earn some pocket money as well. You can find flexible part-time jobs, enabling you to make your own schedule.

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From waiting at bar tables, working in a call-centre or working on campus to actually being an assistant in a big firm, a part-time job can provide a valuable experience. Consider part-time jobs in your field of interest, but also, look for less obvious alternatives, as these can be great learning experiences that can develop a versatile set of skills.

As an international student, you are allowed to partake part-time jobs for 20 hours/ week during semesters (in most European countries).

Here are popular European study destinations allowing you to work during your studies:

2. Summer or winter vacation jobs

In most countries, you can work full-time for three months between academic years. The best part about summer jobs is that you don’t have to worry about the risks of work interfering with your education. The only thing you need to focus on is your job and being very good at it. Not to mention the perks of working in a holiday location such as the seaside or holiday resorts.

Find out about job opportunities in these popular student cities:

3. Internships

Internships are perfect for developing a successful career in a prestigious company that’s connected to your study interests. Some internships are paid and offer you the opportunity of getting hired after completing your internship. If not hired, you will get good reference for future job opportunities and make connections with people that might become your future work colleagues or partners. Internships are perfect for anyone because you get to know better the field you are looking to learn about.

Check out student job opportunities in Germany and Canada.

4. Work placements

A work placement is a way to gain professional experience in a workplace, usually without being paid. Many are offered by universities as part of degree courses. Grades may depend on your completed tasks during your work placement and you will probably need to complete a project and possibly progress reports as part of the placement.

Work placements, sometimes referred to as year placements, are usually taken between your second and final year at the university. Most of the large graduate recruiters advertise placements from early autumn term through to the spring term.

5. Volunteering

Gain experience and industry connections while helping the community! Depending on your degree, volunteering work can actually be more useful and helpful than a job. Volunteering work can help you better understand social problems and you can contribute to solving at least part of the problem. Your work will not be the only thing highly valued, but you might come up with innovative ideas and help associations or organisations that help prevent various social problems.

During a volunteering work, you can meet people that can become credible contact people for future job recommendations or can one day become your employers.

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In many cases, social work students decide to do volunteering work. Check out popular destinations for Masters in Social Work:

6. Work shadowing

Spend time and observe one or more professional individuals within a company. With holidays as the best time to undertake work shadowing, you get the chance to gain the understanding for the type of work involved in a certain field. Although rarely a paid option, work shadowing may be a unique opportunity for you to gain experience in a place where paid work experience positions are rare.

For example, work shadowing can open the door to some highly popular and competitive areas, such as:

You will never see advertisers of work shadowing, you will always have to contact the company yourself and negotiate the content and terms of the work. Work shadowing is similar with an apprenticeship, but it is less structured and harder to find. During a work shadowing experience, you will have to always ask questions related to anything you don’t know or understand and sometimes figure out for yourself what are the main secrets of the field or person you are observing.

7. Insight programmes

Insight programmes are mostly designed for first-year undergraduate students, with the aim to provide an insight into the organisation/company and how they work "behind-the-scenes". An insight programme is not all the time a work option per se, as it can last from one day to a week and sometimes a little longer. 

However, an insight programme can be the first step in the application process for an internship and other work experience opportunities. Additionally, insight programmes are extremely beneficial if they are related to a research project, assignment or graduation paper you are working on.

During an insight programme, you can have fun as you will attend workshops, presentations and get involved in surveys and other interactive games.

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8. Casual employee or freelancer

This is a flexible arrangement for you as an employee and for the company as well. Although usually used for short and sometimes irregular periods, you can also work in a long-term arrangement. As a casual employee, you may be asked to work on a short notice and in most cases, you will also be informed on a short notice when your work will no longer be needed.

On the other hand, you will get paid a little extra for your working hours in order to compensate for not having a clear contract or arrangement. One common example of casual employment jobs are the telecommute/remote jobs.

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You can work from home, in front of the computer, on a fixed or flexible schedule. A work from home job can be very convenient, with the condition you have a good internet connection and sometimes, you will have to use the phone as well. The greatest advantage is that you may study somewhere in Europe, but you can actually work for a company based in U.S. or anywhere else. Most of the telecommute jobs include writer, editor, data entry, virtual consultant and customer service representative.

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With the money you will earn, you could pay back a part of the student loan, pay for your tuition or any other expenses that most students have (accommodation, insurance, etc.). The personal benefits of working while studying are usually greater than the actual income. You will become a more responsible and disciplined person, more self-confident, learn to spend money more carefully and wisely and overall, the experience will certainly turn out to look good on your CV.

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