Go Higher: Scotland and Northern Ireland - Working on your overdraft

These days, student life means student debt. But a part-time job can help

In these days of tuition fees, student loans and rising housing costs, part-time jobs - or at the very least vacation work - have become far more common for students. Many simply cannot survive without supplementing their income through some kind of work.

"It's just too easy to get into a situation where you're taking loans every year, have a full overdraft and credit cards up to their limits, and you can't seem to get by any more," admitted one student from Belfast.

The recent introduction of the minimum wage may help some student workers, but will it mean fewer jobs available to the majority? Helen Robertson, a class representative from Heriot-Watt University outlines one of the drawbacks of the new standard legal wage: "A lot of student work in casual capacities - waiting staff, bar work, flyering - are paid cash-in-hand, so there's no regulation. There will be a temptation to put more staff on a casual basis, as there's always loads of students looking for work. Casual staff are cheap to employ, easy to get rid of, and even easier to replace."

Worrying news, but what other options are there for the student jobseeker? Both Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries well known for drinking. The recent big push by brewers to create thousands of new superpubs, such as Hogshead and Brewers Fayre, has created many new jobs for those who can be flexible in terms of the hours they work. The pay-off for these huge corporate barns is the reliability of the employers.

Bar-work has always been popular with students. If you can't go out and drink with your friends, why not serve them the drinks, get paid and not have to worry about the hangover the next day? Bars across Scotland and Ulster employ students, with regular openings available. These are not always advertised, so the best plan is to drop a CV into all your favourite pubs and keep going in and get to know the people there.

A growing trend in student employment, as in the business world, is telephone services and sales. Call centre work is a rapidly expanding field, with hundreds of centres opening, especially in Glasgow, Belfast and Aberdeen. Many centres actively seek out students, often on agency contracts, so be aware of what you're signing and the number of hours you'll have to work as exams approach. Pay levels in this field are relatively high for part-time work, though the job is often pretty stressful.

Cafes and shops are also lasting favourites in the employment field for students. Wages can vary, and the jobs are often seasonal. Opportunities often arise in the run up to Christmas, so keep a look out in department and high street stores from October, or even September, and extra shifts on Sundays and Bank Holidays can provide welcome financial boosts.

Jobs taken on while studying are often something to be walked away from and forgotten, as they are a means to finance study. There are some people, however, who work to gain experience in their field of study: medical students working as hospital porters, computing students working in Dixons, English literature undergraduates working in Dillons - these all add up to practical vocational experience and a bit of extra cash.

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