Striving for zero: Job ideas for coping with the overdraft

From telethons to brand ambassdorship, there are plenty of jobs just for students that can ease the pain of your overdraft, as Rachel Robbins explains.

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The Independent Online

It is inevitable that the majority of students will enter that black abyss of banking when the only money you have are the monopoly notes in the unused board game tucked under the bed.

The overdraft is a bittersweet thing; it gives you a lovely amount of ‘free’ money to fund a fantastic university lifestyle, whether it be paying for the basics, making you believe you can afford that (frankly, overpriced) Dominos or buy a new item of clothing.

You convince yourself you will pay it back, however after convincing yourself you’re Santa Claus and being over-generous on Christmas presents and/or paying the house deposit, many students come to the realisation that they are in a continuous battle with that dreaded minus sign at the ATM.

A penultimate year student from Loughborough University says: "I realised I was in trouble after my first year of university. Going into July in my overdraft, with the prospect of having to pay over £350 rent for my university house over the summer months, scared me to death. I had a summer job, but in order to pay rent, my monthly phone bill and to afford the higher prices in the south, I had to borrow off my parents, which I felt guilty for and was worried I wouldn’t be able to pay back for a while."

So, how do you get out of your overdraft? It should be easy and/or obvious – earn money, get a job. However, in some university cities or towns there are only so many bars, waitressing and retail jobs around, and many places do not allow students to work there due to their term-time constraints. After talking to students from a variety of universities, here are a list of jobs which you may not have thought of, or not know how to apply for.

Alumni telethon fundraiser

The role involves calling graduates of your university for charitable donations towards the University Fund. It is usually well paid (in Bristol and Reading the pay is over £7 an hour), runs during term-time and in the evenings, so when you’re not at lectures! It is mostly advertised direct from your university homepage, the Students’ Union or careers centre.

University ambassadors

Remember when you came to look around your chosen university? The student helpers were there to give tours or answer questions, and many were getting paid! Although a lot of departments may advertise for volunteers to promote the course, the university is likely to pay people to work many other events as well as open days, and at a nice rate.

This can be on an ad-hoc basis. Nottingham has been known to advertise events for anyone to apply, with no previous or further commitment required. However, Loughborough runs a ‘Students Helping Students’ scheme, where those interested in taking part in such days, giving talks or running tours, will be put onto a database and can apply to work the days that coincide with free time. Look on your careers page or contacting marketing/promotions may give you a nudge in the right direction.

University hall caterers

For those in catered halls in their first (and possibly second) year, you will know that there a lot of people controlling meal times and helping things run smoothly. Feeding so many is a big task, and plenty of staff from cooks to cleaners may be made up from students. Contact your catering provider, for example eatwithUS at University of Sheffield, or your halls of residence for more information.

Marketing assistant

Every university will hold some sort of careers fair, invite businesses to give talks or have them host ‘experience days’. When these companies come onto campus, everything needs to be organised well, as making them feel comfortable is vital to ensure they will visit again. Students can be employed to assist in the smooth running of these days, from promoting the event, arranging rooms and furniture and ordering in food and drink, to just being on hand during the day if they have any questions. The careers centre and marketing/promoting departments usually advertise these sorts of jobs.

Student brand ambassadors

Probably one of the most well-known jobs is that of a Brand Ambassador. Organisations employ students to broadcast their product or service to the student population. It generally offers some good perks such as freebies, a less structured work schedule which means it’s flexible around your studies, and the variety of businesses that employ SBAs are vast. From Microsoft to Linklaters, Red Bull and even our own  ‘i’ newspaper, there are several to choose from.

This site is a valuable place to look for ideas of what companies are hiring. Following on Twitter wouldn’t go a miss either, as many jobs are advertised via social media in this line of work.