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Working While You Study: International Students

We advocate students picking up a part-time job during their studies – but for international students, things may be a little different! So we spoke to Tara Clatterbuck, originally from Hong Kong who came to study a degree in English at King’s College London. Hear what it was like for her to take up a student job in hospitality!

Tara Clatterbuck smiles at the camera in a black, puffy coat

Tara Clatterbuck, former international student at King’s College London

Did you have a job whilst studying in the UK? What was it?

‘It was around the beginning of my second year at university that I realized I had a lot of extra time on my hands. I figured that whatever time I used to goof off with my friends (which is a great use of time by the way!) could probably be used to make some extra money (to fund goofing off with said friends). So I started waitressing at a wine bar in Covent Garden.’

What was the process like to apply for the job as an international student?

‘As this was a job in hospitality, the application process was pretty no-frills. From what I could tell in my personal experience, there’s not much of a difference in the actual process of the application or the interview process. In fact, I was in a group interview with many people who were local to the EU or the UK.

As you already have your visa processed once you are an international student in the UK, your employer will be made aware of your international student status when they collect your details to hire you. It’s always good to make it clear though! In my case, they then invited me to work a trial shift, and the rest is history.’

(As far as Placed is concerned, the application process is much the same regardless of whether you’re an international student!)

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Would you recommend getting a student job while studying in the UK?

‘Definitely, if you can manage your time and still meet those deadlines! (See: Why Students should pick up a Part-time Gig in Service)

It’s a great way to earn some extra cash, learn to organize your schedule, and also meet some people you may not otherwise meet. I met a lot of people I’m still in contact with and great friends with to this day.

I also think the service and hospitality industry develops a lot of vital transferable skills. Customer service skills, sales, the ability to think on your feet, juggling multiple tasks at a time…These are all things you can carry with you in your future career.

(It also humbles you – you learn to never be above cleaning up the garbage at the end of the night!)’

What are your tips for getting a student job as an international student?

‘Play up your best skills and your eagerness to work and learn. I find that a lot of international students may not have had a job in their teens, but being able to show your personality and a great attitude will help in demonstrating what you can bring to the work environment. (Nobody wants to spend a 10-hour shift working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight!)

As part-time hours can go up to 35 hours a week in the UK, I did feel like being able to bring only 20 hours to the table wasn’t that impressive. To combat that, I made sure I seemed put together, positive, and keen to help where I could.’

For more tips, see How to Balance Uni with a Part-time Job!

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