At the end of term many students will be searching for work in the hope of making some pocket money or filling the gap that SAAS has left. There is a whole range of industries that young people find themselves working in; all of which have pros and cons that you’ll want to be aware of as you are crafting your CV and perfecting your personal statement. Luke Hawkins helps you navigate the maze that is part-time employment.



The action-packed shelf-stacking, barcode-scanning, stockroom-searching world of retail is one of the most popular options for young people looking for work. The more glamorous will be attracted to fashion retail while supermarkets will take on any hard grafters.

Colleagues: Many of the people you will be working alongside will be in a similar to position to you outside of work – other young people who you will have plenty in common with, including the same ups and downs from work.
This can see the blossoming of beautiful new friendships. Or at least someone you enjoy talking to on your break or while out of the boss’s view.

Hours: People go shopping during the day and that’s good news for the people working. Even if you are on backshift, you will probably be able to be home and in bed by a reasonable time.
Or you might even have time to make an appearance on a night out. The only exception to this is 24-hour stores. You are a brave person if you want to go for one of those positions.

Customers: It may seem harsh labelling the general public as a con, but anyone who has worked in retail will tell you that it’s deserved. Although there will be the odd customer who genuinely brightens up your day, there are plenty who see complaining as a sport. They will mistake you for the CEO of the company and demand you solve their non-problem as you daydream about what you’re going to eat when you get home.

Hierarchy: Pretty much all jobs have a hierarchal structure, but in retail you will regularly be dealing with supervisors and managers. The people occupying these roles can make or break this job. If they’re cool, everything will run smoothly, and you might even look forward to your shift. If, however, you get stuck with a supervisor with all the intelligence, charisma and skill of a cabbage, then shifts can really drag on.


bar tender

Many of you will be familiar with bars already and might fancy trying to get a job there. Although there are some good points to working in a bar, be warned: being on the working side of the bar is a lot less fun than the drinking side.

Atmosphere: Most applicants will be applying for the types of bars they like going to as customers and most bars will be looking for applicants who suit the style of the place; it’s a perfect match.
This can means you find yourself working in a place with your kind of music, your kind of people and your kind of atmosphere. Punters: The variety of customers you will be interacting in a bar with will ensure you meet all sorts of amateur comedians, raconteurs, hustlers and weirdos. The type of punter depends on the type of bar. Choose wisely.

Punters: Yes, yes, it’s a pro and a con. You will get the odd person who is just generally a pain in backside but for the most part, alcohol is involved. You might find yourself face-to-face with the weepy drunk, the aggressive drunk, the loud drunk, the obnoxious drunk. There isn’t really a preferable type.

Hours: Say goodbye to early nights! Getting home at 4am won’t be unusual if you take on bar work. Some pubs and bars will close around midnight but the majority of late bars and clubs in cities will see you mopping up and restocking in the wee small hours.


Probably the most professional looking role you could take on. But looks can be deceiving. Offices may not always have the most exciting atmospheres, but with a clever bit of spin, the work can make you and your CV seem pretty impressive.

Comfy: Although there will be some darting around the office and probably a fair few coffee runs, an office job is unlikely to see you doing quite such physical work as you would be doing in retail or hospitality. For the most part you’ll be indoors with a seat, a desk and whatever snacks are floating around the office that day.

Good for your CV: Whatever industry you’re looking to get a career in, there will likely be some department that requires office workers. Even if your part-time role sees you simply making copies, sending emails and fetching coffee, this can turn up on your CV as “displaying skills in communication, organisation and logistics.” The office can be a great way of getting your foot in the door of a company you really want to work for.

Corporate: It obviously depends on the type of company you are working for, but many office jobs will feel very corporate. Fairly strict systems will be in place and you will need to adhere to them. You will regularly answer to management and will be expected to dress and conduct yourself in a certain way.

Claustrophobic: Many offices have gone the way of Facebook and Innocent and tried to make the space as fun and stimulating as possible. Nonetheless, for many people, a few beanbags and games consoles aren’t enough to satisfy the need to be in amongst the action. If you’re an outdoorsy type or feel the need to get your hands onto something, then office work might not be for you.


gordon ramsey

Commercial kitchens can be frantic places but can also give you knowledge and skills that will stand you in good stead in everyday life. Although often loud and fast-paced, you’re unlikely to come across any Gordon Ramsay type maniacs. Probably.

Vocational: It’s not unusual to hear of people taking on a part-time job in a kitchen only for them to find that they develop a real passion for what they are doing. Every top chef you see on TV has started their career scrubbing pots and pans or peeling tatties.

Useful skills: Whatever role you take on in the kitchen, you will be in the right place to pick up new cooking skills. Whether it’s the preparation of certain foods, new recipes or helpful hints the head chef can give you, new cookery skills will always be useful.

Conditions: If it’s your first time stepping into a role in a kitchen, you will probably be doing the washing up as a kitchen porter. This can be grubby work and you will be clearing up other people’s plates – that gives some people the shivers. If you end up in a more interesting role where you do some of the cooking, you won’t be doing quite such manky work but will still be in hot, sometimes cramped conditions.

Pace: Keeping busy is always a good thing and makes a job more enjoyable. However, at service times, work in the kitchen can be pretty full-on. The pace will increase and there will be a relentless amount of orders coming in.



Give something back to the community, either through a sense of genuine good will or because you have a guilty conscience. Charity work will keep you busy and give you experience but you probably won’t add to your savings.

Good cause: Feel the halo float above your head as you know you are doing something good for the community. As people come in and spend their hard-earned cash, you can rest easy that it is going towards a good cause rather than some ruthless corporation.

Quirks: Charity shops see all sorts of unusual items go in and out the door whether that’s retro clothing, kitsch household items or the odd bit of hidden treasure. Being around these items can be inspiring to someone with a creative eye for design. You could even have first dibs on them and purchase them for yourself.

Unpaid: Charity shop workers are almost exclusively made up of volunteers, and that V word means you won’t be taking home any money at the end of the day. If you can afford to live off savings or some other type of income, then charity work is well worth doing, but picking up a wage is an absolute necessity for some. The charity guys in the street get commission but everyone hates them.

Muddle: Colleagues and systems in charity shops can sometimes be a bit disjointed. This could turn out to be a bit frustrating and you could find yourself buried under a pile of cardigans and flares.