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Sound advice for student jobs

A student job can give you experience, skills, industry knowledge, and a network. It's your opportunity to build your experience and take the first steps toward a career after your studies. Here, we'll offer you a few tips for your student job — for before, during, and after the job.

studerende ved bord
© Alexis Brown fra Unsplash

Consider the kinds of experiences you'll gain from your student job. While staying at one job for your entire course of study can feel secure, try different things to get more out of your experience, your network, and your industry knowledge.

1. Be clear on what you want

The work you perform at your student job will give you experience that will contribute to the beginning of your career after you finish your thesis. If you have a particular career direction in mind, look into the skills you'll need in order to get that far. Then, work to find a student job that can help you develop those same skills.

If you aren't entirely sure what you're good at or what would be most relevant to your education, you can draw inspiration from older students, or look on LinkedIn to see what former student assistants have gone on to do.

Read more about what you gain from your education

2. Avoid becoming a gofer

The kinds of work you'll be asked to do as a student can vary greatly. Some tasks will require you to apply your academic skills, such as when preparing analyses or contacting business partners. Other tasks may be of a more practical nature, like making coffee or setting up for a meeting. Both kinds of task are part of a student job. However, be careful to not end up taking on practical tasks exclusively. You need to work on your academic skills, too.

Ask management about the kinds of tasks you'll be expected to perform before accepting the job. If you already are a gofer, talk to your manager to see what needs to happen for you to take on additional responsibilities. If your manager refuses, try to find a different student job.

3. Know the terms of your employment and your rights

As a student assistant, you signed a contract between you and your employer. That means that there are a number of conditions around your employment, and it can be a good idea to know what they are. For example, what happens if you become ill? Do you have a right to go on holiday? Do you get paid if a public holiday falls on a day that you typically work? How long is your termination notice period?

If you have any doubts, get a hold of your workplace union representative, or contact DM.

Read more about your rights at a student job

Read more about your pay and terms of employment

4. Ask questions

Don't ask the same question over and over again. When you're introduced to a new area, a new program, or a new colleague, make a note of things you need to remember. Then, you can always refer back to your notes if you're unsure about anything. However, remember that it's better to ask one time too many than it is to make mistakes. Ultimately, that could cost the business more than an extra question would. Just remember to thank your colleagues for their help.

5. Be a good colleague

You'll learn many things at your workplace. As a member of the team at your workplace, you should be courteous, and you should honour your agreements. In other words, people should be both socially and professionally comfortable with you. Don't forget to think about the social aspect, too. That's part of what makes going to work enjoyable, and in the long term, it will make you better at your job.

6. Learn something new

Remember that you don't have to do the same thing for all your time as a student. As a student, you have a unique freedom to try out different things. Continually consider what you're getting out of your student job and know when it's time to switch to something new.