Part-time work in Lancaster

by Tom Scott

Hi, I’m Tom and I’m one of Lancaster University’s digital content ambassadors. I’m part way into my second year at the University studying Natural Sciences with a focus on ecology and conservation.

I’ve taken on a few different forms of part-time work since I’ve been at Lancaster to earn a little extra cash, and in this article, I’ll be talking about my experience of these.

Why would I need a job?

I mean, this is pretty obvious, I got a job because I wanted my bank account to look a bit less sad. In my first year, I didn’t really budget, and with a seemingly endless overdraft and loads of stuff to do I ended up digging myself into a bit of a hole. This is a predicament quite a few of my friends got into as well. Honestly, I think it’s a quintessential student experience. I managed to work my way out of it over the summer holidays but I was determined not to do the same thing in my second year, plus having a bit of extra cash meant doing things like travelling to sports tournaments and planning holidays in the summer was much less stressful.

There’s also the added benefit of it looking good on my CV, fingers crossed I can get a good job when I graduate.

Preparing to get a job

There are probably a million websites telling you how to do this better than I can, but you’re basically going to need a CV, a cover letter and potentially some interview skills. Get on google and find out what will help you to stand out. Ask is the place to be if you need any help with this kind of thing, my friend got loads of help perfecting her application documents. It's next to the library in Alexandra Square.

How to find job vacancies

Since I’ve been at Lancaster I’ve had a few different jobs and I’ve found them in different ways.

The first was the one I’m doing right now, being a Digital Content Ambassador! In a similar vein, I’m also an ambassador for my department, Natural Science, where I give tours and meet prospective students.

Both of these roles were advertised through the Lancaster Employment and Recruitment Service on the iLancaster app, and it was as simple as sending off the right forms. Although, to be a digital content ambassador I also had to attend an interview conducted by my current managers, which at the time I was sure I’d failed. Fortunately, they hired me though (cheers Louise).

I also work at a local supermarket on weekends, I found out about the vacancy by just checking a part-time work website. There are always loads of opportunities going, it’s not hard to find a part-time employer in Lancaster if you know where to look.

A student working in a supermarket

Fitting a job around your life

Going to university was such a massive change from anything I’d done before that in the first year a proper job would have probably overwhelmed me. Now that I’m more settled in I’ve found it easy to create a work/life balance that I can roll with. With proper time management, a part-time job doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying your time at Lancaster.

I made a few changes once my schedule started getting packed; the first was just to try and get to bed at a reasonable time if I didn’t have anything specific planned. This went hand in hand with getting up a bit earlier so I could get something productive done in the morning instead of sleeping until midday because of a late-night Netflix binge. I also started making a weekly timetable in Excel so I knew exactly when I would have free time to catch up on lectures or get coursework finished, although if I was you I’d just opt for an online calendar, it’s probably a lot easier. Now I manage to balance my course, multiple Frisbee training sessions and a few shifts every week with time to spare. But it’s a completely personal thing, and as I mentioned before, can give you advice in this area if you’re struggling.

It’s also probably worth mentioning that once you’ve worked somewhere for a while your bosses will probably allow some degree of flexibility, so if things aren’t working out there could be an opportunity to switch it up a bit.

My experiences of work

Because of the way my modules fell I had fewer contact hours in term two, meaning I could commit to a 16-hour contract at the supermarket. Even though it seems like a lot on paper, I’m finding it pretty enjoyable. It’s like a new group of middle-aged friends, but instead of doing fun things together, we stack shelves. Obviously, there are days when I don’t want to go to work, especially after a heavy night in the Sugarhouse, but for me, the benefits of extra cash outweigh the pain of my shift timetable.

My ambassador roles are my favourite though, due to the flexible work hours and, for the digital content ambassador role, the creativity that comes into play when working. I would recommend this kind of part-time work to any student at Lancaster looking to get more involved with the university community and get a bank boost as an extra. Plus, ambassador roles usually offer some kind of free university-branded apparel as a perk of the job, who could resist that!

A student ambassador at an open day