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Tips for working or volunteering during your studies

3 April 2023

Balancing university with student life and work is not always easy. At first, it can be scary to volunteer or work for the first time, especially in a new environment. At the same time, you could end up meeting amazing people and learning new skills that will be useful in the future.

Everyone is different when it comes to working while at university. It depends on you, your needs, what you like and what you can do. Some people prefer having a more secure part time job, while others like to keep it more open and diverse.

In my case, I realised I worked better doing a few “smaller” activities rather than take on a more frequent part time job. It helped me explore different sides, from mental health to communication or media-related activities. However, what works for me may not work for you. It can be helpful to find your preferred style and the best way to do that is by trial and error.

Check out these tips to keep in mind if you are looking to work during your studies:

Get out of your comfort zone

This sounds easier said than done but once you do it and look back, you might realise it was worth it. Once you complete it, it can be very rewarding to see that despite initial uncertainties, you still did it. You will encounter many opportunities to do this throughout your time at university, so why not give it a try?

Have a routine

Similar to the 9-5 work routine, you can create one for yourself. It can simply mean not working after a certain hour or waking up around the same time every day. This can ultimately help to keep a balance between work, university, and other enjoyable activities you might want to do.

Keep track of important dates

Whether that is exams, assignment deadlines, classes or fun activities, before signing up for any opportunities, it is important to take a look at the dates and times when you are busy. This can help you figure out when to allocate time for working or volunteering, without interfering much with your study or student life.

Do not take on too much

Speaking of routines and important dates, it can sometimes be tempting to apply to as many opportunities as you can. However, over time, it can end up piling up and becoming more difficult to manage during deadlines. Among others, knowing your limits and allowing time for yourself should be two of your top priorities when looking for work or volunteering during your university years.

Look for opportunities on the university’s platforms

Jobshop can be a good place to start if you want part time or temporary employment. In many cases, you do not need previous experience, so anyone can apply to the listed opportunities. Vacancies range from working as an invigilator for schools, to helping with Open Days, or participating in Students’ Union events such as spring student elections.

Student Futures is slightly different in the sense that you can find more long-term work experience or internships from outside companies, all of which are approved by the university before advertising. You can also book appointments such as careers or application advice, mock interviews and get feedback on your CV should you want any help with those aspects. You can find out more information on this webpage.

Get involved in a student committee

At Cardiff, you will find more than 200 societies to choose from, over 50 sports clubs, along with 9 Student Led Services and 4 Student Media opportunities. Joining at least one of these can be a very good way of meeting like-minded people, trying something new or continuing a hobby. Towards the end of the academic year, you can nominate yourself to be part of the next year’s committee. You will not only take part in shaping the experiences of new and previous members but also learn leadership and teamwork skills while doing something you enjoy.

With all this being said, remember that your university years are not all about working. Explore new places, spend time with friends or by yourself and enjoy your student experience because time will fly faster than you think.