Discount booze and value-brand beans are common sights in student abodes, and in the aftermath of the festive season budgets are tighter than ever. But it doesn’t have to be that way, as Rachael Healy finds out.
Standard part-time jobs do not suit many student schedules, but cast your net a little wider and there is a whole world of quirky employment waiting.
A new car is usually the preserve of prestigious graduate schemes. Yet Calum, 20, a politics student at Goldsmiths, has picked up an enviable position with energy drinks giant Red Bull, and a promotional vehicle in which to cruise the streets of New Cross comes with the job.
He visits student-dominated areas, distributing cartons to thirsty residents. The next day he returns and fills the cartons up with more Red Bull.
Although he works 48 hours a month, there are no strict shift times: “It’s incredibly flexible around uni commitments, which is very useful.”
It is well paid too. Most promotional work is based on commission, but Calum is guaranteed £7 an hour – and an abundance of energy drink.
The role is exclusively reserved for students and requires him to attend the NME awards, the World Championship B-boy finals, as well as skateboarding and BMX-ing events. Calum told me: “If it’s exciting and cool as hell, Red Bull is involved.” It’s a tough job…
Tobi, 21, is a Goldsmiths English student and, although he doesn’t get a car, VIP nights out and hanging out with artists like Wu-Tang and Big Sean are standard in his job.
Tobi works at MTV.
He explains how he rose through the ranks. “Initially I was brought in to write my monthly column ‘The UK Rap Up with Tobz’ and gradually I’ve been asked to do a range of stuff.
“The best part would be the perks you get – free VIP entry to loads of gigs and nights in London which would otherwise be really expensive.”
Like Calum’s job, Tobi finds fits his role with MTV easily around his studies: “The hours are pretty flexible – overall it’s quite unstructured, which can be fun and at times confusing.”
However, he also warns that work can become overwhelming as deadlines pile up and the speed of turnover necessarily increases. And, working for a successful global brand, Tobi always feels pressure to produce high quality work: “There is a clear correlation between producing a good standard of work and getting asked to work more frequently on future projects and pieces, so that’s very important to me.”
Thriving nightlife is central to the student experience and Sinead, 21, like Tobi, has found in her part-time work that it pays to party.
“My dad used to DJ and music has always been a massive part of my life, so he showed me the basics and after DJing Islington Academy for my 18th I just sort of carried on.”
As a naturally nocturnal person, Sinead found DJing suited her existing lifestyle and even allowed her to enjoy nights out more than usual: “The best bit about DJing is being able to play what you want to hear on a night out and seeing other people dance to the songs that you love.”
Unfortunately Sinead has noticed more and more young people getting into part-time DJing over the last three years, saturating the market and cutting down on potential work for experienced DJs such as herself. But she still enjoys her work – and it has even taken around the world, from Belfast to Berlin.
So if you have a massive music collection and an ear for what gets a crowd going, then DJing could be the perfect job.
Now for the bad news. Calum is one of only 38 students employed by Red Bull around the UK, and MTV aren’t offering roles in abundance. But do not despair; there are numerous equally unusual jobs out there although some are pretty dodgy…
Job Description: Medical test subject.
Employer: trials4us.co.uk (based in Croydon and Tooting) and londontrials.co.uk (based in Hammersmith).
Salary: Varies wildly, but could be over £2,000 for a residential trial of 1-2 weeks.
Hours: Many trials involve overnight stays, ranging from 1 night to 13 nights, but usually spread out over a couple of months.
Pros: Nice, big chunks of money, for very little effort; one trial could earn you the equivalent of a year’s worth of minimum wage Saturday shifts. If you are asthmatic or obese there are high-paid trials in abundance.
Cons: It could be a long wait before a relevant trial comes up, and be thorough when checking the details; you wouldn’t want a swollen face or a cluster of nasty buboes…
Job Description: Completing online surveys.
Employer: paidsurveys4me.com; yougov.co.uk; honestrewards.co.uk; and many, many more.
Salary: This depends entirely on how many surveys you complete. Companies offer between 10p and £5 per survey, although sadly the latter is rare.
Hours: Whenever you like.
Pros: Easy to fit in; minimal skill and effort required.
Cons: Can be extremely tedious, and many sites require you to earn a certain sum before you may withdraw it. Also, beware of sites that enter you into prize draws rather than giving cash for each completed survey.
Job Description: Text chat operator.
Employer: livelinesukjobs.co.uk; text121chat.com; amongst others.
Salary: Some positions pay per hour, usually around £7. However most pay per text message, between 5p and 10p.
Hours: Some allow employees to choose their hours; others specify a number of hours per week, on certain days.
Pros: It is possible to work around university classes and deadlines, the only required skill is the ability to type.
Cons: The work varies dramatically in character. Some texters will be responding to queries from ‘Anything Answered’ services, or giving tarot readings, but many of the jobs are a lot seedier. You may be asked to take on the persona of a ‘sexy single’ and chat and send somewhat risqué pictures to interested members of the public. That we do not recommend.