One of the things I value about Durham is that there is such an emphasis on balancing the many things that university students may be juggling: degree work, socialising, exercise (optional, but ideal), me-time, and the bit I want to talk about in this blog – part-time work. Of course, taking on a job alongside your degree isn’t always essential, and the motivations for doing this vary hugely. But if this is something you’re considering, there is of course a huge range of places to turn to for work. Personally I have found nearly all my part-time roles through the University, and have found these to be both flexible and rewarding.
Equally, this is a tiny fraction of the possibilities open to you as a student; while my work experience has largely been with the wider University, others choose to work at the Student Union café or reception, and the benefit of the collegiate system also opens up the options of working at the college bar or toastie bar. That being said, here are all the paid roles I’ve taken on so far at university, giving you an insight into my experience!
Open Day Ambassador/Durham Student Ambassador
The first paid role I had – I started out as an Open Day Ambassador, which is available to pretty much any student on completion of a training session. It involves working during University Open Days in July and September, with a variety of jobs including greeting students at the train station, signposting around Durham, and conducting tours of college – which is what I prefer to do. These are long and exhausting days (especially when you’re running up and down a castle) but it’s really rewarding talking to prospective students – and you get a free lunch! Durham Student Ambassador is a step up from this which I’ve begun this year – as well as Open Days, it offers you opportunities to represent Durham at careers fairs across the country, and work on residential events for prospective students.
DLHE Telephone Assistant
This role lasts for around a month, allowing you choose your shifts (which take place for three hours on weekday evenings), and it entails calling up Durham graduates and asking them to complete the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey. While there are no doubt a few nights where you’re just listening to the phone ring, I’ve had loads of fascinating conversations with graduates and even their families about what they’ve been up to after uni – it’s even helped me with thinking about my own future!
Ladies Night/Halfway Hall/June Ball Worker
This is the only role I’ve had within my college, and it’s a one-off opportunity to work the night at a college ball. Again, it’s pretty exhausting (especially in the case of the 12 hour June Ball), but I’ve gotten to work alongside my friends, feel very professional with my own radio and headset, and best of all, basically get paid to attend a ball, which can otherwise be pretty pricey!
This role is technically through rather than for the university, working for the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme, which targets disadvantaged young people in the North East, helping to raise their aspirations and explore their options after school. It’s really flexible, and working with the students is challenging, but incredibly rewarding. There are some one-off opportunities, like campus events and careers fairs, but my favourite element is the scheme which involves delivering six weekly workshops in the same school, offering the chance to really build a relationship with your mentees.
Durham University Marketing and Communications Intern
This job! – basically, blogging! Writing pieces for the blog site has been so much fun, and it’s really convenient, letting me work around my schedule to produce new content. While we’re sometimes given topics or events to cover, many of my blog posts have been my own ideas or subjects I am passionate about, with my favourite to date being my piece all about studying Harry Potter at Durham! As my degree is English Literature and I’ve always had a passion for writing, it doesn’t even feel like work – and I’ll often procrastinate over things to sit down and write a new blog post!
You can read more of my blogs here.
The Student Employment Service can help you find part-time work while at University.