When you are studying abroad, you may find that a part-time job can really help pay a few extra bills or fund leisure activities and travel that would have otherwise been outside of your budget. If you have been thinking of working whilst studying abroad, you are not alone – many international students seek employment during their studies. When searching for a suitable job, it is important to take several things into account, such as the laws in your country of study, and whether there is a limit to the number of hours you can work according to your visa type, if applicable. Different countries have different regulations when it comes to work available to international students, so it’s important to check them before applying for jobs. Another important thing you should take into account are your studies and lifestyle – A job should have minimal impact on your education.
A good job for international students should:
- Fit a student’s lifestyle (part-time jobs that leave enough time for your course and studying or provide flexible working hours);
- Enable a student to develop stronger language skills (very important for international students who are not native speakers);
- Help a student integrate quickly into a new culture and meet new friends;
- Ideally, offer some good work experience and open future opportunities.
It’s worth noting that for student visa purposes, part-time work in your destination country cannot be included in your ‘proof of funds’.
You may already have an idea of what you want to do, but if not, we have put together a list of some of the most common and accessible part-time jobs for international students.
Work at the University
Working on campus is one of the most popular options for international students. In some countries, such as the USA, the only work available to international students during their first year of undergraduate studies is working within the university. There are many different jobs offered on campus, from working in the writing centre, as a teaching assistant, in the cafeteria, to computer centres. Another on-campus option is working for a students’ union. This is a good opportunity to get involved in current issues and to help other students at the university. Depending on the union and their mission, you might be able to help other international students and support their experiences at the university.
As an international student, working on campus will help you meet new people, improve your language skills and give you some valuable experience. You will probably spend more time with your friends from the university since many students work on campus.
One downside to working on your campus is that paid work at the university is usually very competitive. There are many international and domestic students who wish to work part-time during their studies, so it’s important to get ready for the interview and to show enthusiasm even if the type of work is not particularly exciting.
Another key consideration is taking advantage of any academic services available, which include and are not limited to: how to apply or find part-time work, preparing for interviews, support with writing or editing your CV and how to write a cover letter appropriate for that particular country to increase your success of hire in your ideal part-time work.
Restaurants and Bars
There are many jobs offered at the bars, restaurants and cafés in the surrounding towns and cities, and this might be the easiest way for you to find employment. Restaurants are always looking for more help, so chances are that you will be able to find a job relatively easily. You could work as a waiter, bar staff, or even in the kitchen, depending on your experience and skills.
This type of job may require good communication skills but there are often no formal requirements when it comes to past work experience. It means you will probably be able to find a job at a restaurant, which might be an excellent opportunity for an international student. This job opportunity will help you build your interpersonal skills, improve language proficiency and make new friends.
The biggest drawback to working at a restaurant are the hours of activity because most restaurant work is based around the evenings. This can be very exhausting, especially if you have a lot of early morning lectures/seminars as part of your course. Sometimes, night shifts may interrupt your studies. This is something to consider when considering employment at a bar or a restaurant. However, if you thrive at night and are more awake late into the night then you would benefit from looking into this kind of part-time work.
Some international students find employment at call centres. This is a good choice for those who are communicative, friendly and confident in their language and/or computer skills. Also, call centre jobs are not physically demanding, so they are a good choice if you prefer or need an office environment.
On the other hand, working at a call centre can be demanding. You need to possess excellent communication skills and above average language skills. The difficulty of call centre positions varies dramatically, for example telesales positions are amongst the most difficult and pressured opportunities but they often bring commission with each sale, further boosting your income. Working at a customer support centre instead requires excellent knowledge of the products, services and the company you work for, where training about such services and products are provided during your training at work.
Customer Service related jobs
A common way to begin your employment journey can be through the customer service related job posts. Customer service employment can often be part-time and available to first-time job seekers because the training will happen on the job and flexible work shifts. It is a great opportunity to learn many transferable skills and some organisations even offer extra training or professional development to gradually progress your time within the organisation. If you enjoy interacting with people and care about how people are greeted, then this could be an area of interest. Again, this can also be an opportunity to work part-time during your study weeks and full-time during your break between each year of study. Finally, customer service related posts can be found in any field from the arts and culture to sports or fashion.
It may be possible for you to find an internship within a company relevant to your field of study, otherwise known as co-op or placement. Being an intern gives you some much-needed experience and it opens numerous opportunities. Depending on the country and your field of study, it may even be possible for you to be hired by the company once you complete your studies. In any case, an internship will give you a lot of experience relevant to your field of study, so you can see it both as a job opportunity and gaining some valuable experience in your field. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible for you to receive payment for your internship. Some degree courses include a co-op placement that is paid or unpaid as criteria to fulfil during your studies.
There are numerous volunteering opportunities international students can use to gain experience and meet new people. Being a volunteer is one of the more rewarding and interesting work opportunities, and one of the biggest advantages of volunteering is the wide range of positions available. There is more varied work available for volunteers, so chances are that you will be able to choose a role you truly like. There are lots of companies and organisations looking for volunteers, so this is a great way for international students to get involved and gain some much-needed experience. Volunteering also opens up a host of opportunities for international students and it gives you both a work experience and a more varied CV.
The main difference with a volunteering job is that these positions are not paid. Therefore, this work opportunity cannot help you pay for additional social activities or save some money. For these reasons, volunteering is a good choice for those who don’t have to work to support themselves or for those international students who can combine volunteering with a paid job.
Term Time Work vs. Summer Jobs
Finally, it is worth noting if you are not comfortable working during term time or your study weeks, you can also find part-time or full-time hours during the summer, when you do not have any classes. The difference is you have the option to work full-time hours and this is usually permissible on student visas depending on the country. You can still work part-time hours, depending on your circumstances, and may even be able to have the same part-time job all throughout the calendar year, whether it is during your study weeks or not. However, it can be helpful to know you have the option of working between each term or semester, where you can gain valuable experience in a more concentrated time period.
Please note this list isn’t exhaustive though, so don’t be put off if you find a different job opportunity when you are studying abroad. To make the most of studying abroad you should be open minded to the opportunities.