Go Higher: London & The South East: Just the job: in London and The South-east

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Indy Lifestyle Online
ONE REASON for taking a degree in London or the South-east is that you can find part-time and casual work to help bankroll your studies. Students in the region have no problem getting jobs - in burger bars, shops or petrol stations, or as childminders, drivers or cheap office help.

Many students work in term-time as well as in vacations. Gay Humphrys, head of the careers service at Greenwich University, south London, says it's quite rare to find a student who isn't working while studying. "Students need to work to fund themselves," she says. "We would like to think they are gaining skills and experience as well that will help them later in life when it comes to finding permanent employment."

The University of Greenwich has a job shop which posts vacancies for campus jobs - stuffing envelopes, conducting telephone surveys and helping with open days - as well as jobs at Bluewater Shopping Mall and the Millennium Dome. Students are keen to work for the uni, says Gay Humphrys. The careers service, for example, pays pounds 5.40 an hour - good money for casual work.

Almost all student unions help undergraduates to find temporary employment, whether by hiring students themselves or advertising vacancies. The University of London Union, for example, has a wide range of jobs for students running the ULU facilities in Malet Street. They include bar work, cooking, clearing tables, working a cash till, selling, and being a lifeguard. Pay is pounds 3.75 an hour which is the legal minimum wage. These vacancies are advertised through noticeboards in halls of residence and in student newspapers.

University careers services are also in the business of helping students find part-time work during their courses. City University is about to start a student employment service database, envisaged as a seamless operation, providing students with part-time, temporary, vacation work and work experience. At present students at City do anything from filling petrol tanks at night to working in solicitors' offices during the vacation.

In the future, City plans to put all students' details on computer and match them to firms as well as helping students to weave their PT and temporary work into their career planning. "We know students need jobs for money," says Ruth Cohen, head of the careers service. "But we'd like them to reflect on the skills they get from that too - transferable, key skills - so we'll get them to identify skills they're developing through part-time work."

City University has vacation work schemes with local employers. These are essentially work experience schemes. The university has arrangements with Citibank and with legal firms in the area that offer legal vacation work to law students. "This kind of thing is very attractive to employers because it gives them a way of identifying potential recruits early on. Students like it because they don't have to take a year out, as they do with an industrial placement, and they get a bit of money in the holidays."

Students at Kingston University can find part-time work via a vacancy bulletin published fortnightly. They get jobs in Sainsbury's and Waitrose, as well as in bars. If they are lucky, they may be taken on for short- term assignments during the vacations - doing a marketing project or developing a database. "They can apply skills they have learnt on their courses," says Jan Stow in the careers service. "We say that all part-time work is relevant to the transferable skills they need for employment and that they should never look at a job with a negative attitude."

Lucy Hodges

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