It might be hard to imagine working while studying with the added pressure of adjusting to the culture shock but once you see the many benefits of a part-time job, you will try to make time for it and find one that fits your classes schedule. Not only does it help with your finances but it gives you an opportunity to learn the host country’s language and improve your communication skills.
When finding part-time work, it is important to keep in mind your personal goals for getting the job and stay focused on that. After working for some weeks, you will observe a lot of positive changes in your personality (a confidence boost for sure!) and it will help with your adjustment in the host country as well.
Identify your goals and priorities
In order to commit to a job and all the responsibilities that come with it, it is important to first identify what exactly your purpose would be for finding the job and spending time on it. If you resonate with any of the benefits listed below, you can identify your goals for working part-time easily:
- If you’re finding it hard to manage your living expenses (accommodation, utilities, fod, etc.) this could be an excellent way to meet those needs while studying abroad
- Student loans can be a cumbersome and the stress of repaying them can even distract you from your studies so working alongside your studies can help you alleviate that stress
- Being in a host country where you have very limited knowledge of the language can make you lag behind in your academics so consider getting a job that would push you to practise and learn the language
- Making connections, finding friends and finding future opportunities become easier once you start building a good professional reputation for yourself which will impress future employers
- Working gives you a hands-on experience of the work culture in the host country, leadership and teamwork which helps you grow holistically outside of academics
- It is highly possible that your entire budget is getting used up in daily survival and you need a means to earn extra money for leisure and having adventures that you need to blow off steam and explore the host country
Remember that getting a part-time job should not affect your grades and cause more stress so be careful not to rob yourself of your health or academic success.
Consider the legal requirements for working abroad
Before you start looking for and applying for jobs, it is important to properly understand the legalities of working in your host country as an international student. Different countries have different laws for students (breaching these laws can carry heavy fines or expulsion from university) who want to work, remember to check these rules on the embassy’s website as they are always getting updated:
- USA: During the first year, students are only allowed to work on-campus under the F1 visa. After this, they can work off-campus without any limitations of hours. Check out the details of student employment rules here
- UK: On a Tier 4 visa, you can work part time for 10 to 20 hours per week. You can only be eligible for full-time employment after your studies are complete but you can work full time when term-time is finished.
- China: With a Chinese student visa, it is very difficult to get permission for work as it requires a long process of paperwork with the immigration authorities and the university
- Canada: Student permit in Canada allows students to work off campus for 20 hours per week but this rule has laxed for the year 2023. Find out more here.
- Australia: Australian student visa allows students to work for up to 20 hours in two weeks. They can work full time during holidays and breaks.
- Germany: You can work for 20 hours per week for 26 weeks of employment. During semester breaks, there is no limit for work.
- France: With a French student visa, you can work for 964 hours per year.
If any of the countries listed above are not part of your plans, you can check out Malaysia, Sweden, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, Spain etc. or take a look at this article here.
Research job opportunities in your host country
Depending on whether you are allowed to do on-campus or off-campus jobs, you can search for the following kinds of jobs in the host country:
On campus jobs
There are many on campus jobs available that you can apply for but these get grabbed quickly so research and apply before you arrive and pre-plan especially if you are only allowed on-campus jobs by your visa. See what kind of skills you have and what your financial needs are, then apply as any of the following positions at your campus:
- Consultant at the writing centre
- Teaching assistant
- Assistant at library or computer centre
- Running tables at the cafeteria
- Research assistant
- School ambassador
Teaching English or any other language
If the host country’s native language is not English, you will find a lot of people looking for English tutors for their children or even friends on campus who need assistance with English.
Being enrolled in a good university gives you an edge over other candidates for tutoring jobs. You can start searching on the local job posting websites for parents or students looking for help. You can earn a good amount by helping students with assignments and lessons.
Working at restaurants, bars and cafes
Restaurants are always looking for extra staff to help them with customers or in the kitchen and it does not require any great work experience so you can easily apply. Make sure that you can work with the restaurant’s or cafe’s hours. If you can, it would be an excellent opportunity to make friends and improve interpersonal skills.
This job is not very physical so if you have good communication skills and know how to operate a computer well, you should apply here. However, you need to be good with handling stress and learning about the services and products thoroughly.
This includes being a sales associate and helping customers at outlets to choose the right product or service. This job is relatively easy as the training happens on the job and you can also be flexible with your working hours.
You will be required to transfer calls or organise files to make them accessible. This is a very simple and straightforward job and you can get paid reasonably well.
Internships and volunteering
If none of the opportunities listed above are working for you and you still need some work experience to make connections, getting an internship or signing up for a volunteering opportunity would be excellent. Try to find an internship in your own field and you might even end up getting paid.
As for volunteering, it is a non-paid opportunity that will be solely for gaining experience. A simple Google search can help you find charities, NGOs and other causes around you. Check with your university counsellor to make sure these jobs are safe and legal.
Be flexible and open to new experiences
When you are looking for international student jobs, your entire focus should not be on finding work relevant to your field or building up your resume according to your career. Part-time jobs are usually aimed at building communication and cultural immersion so you should not judge yourself when you are doing this kind of work.
If you are creative, flexible and not very picky, you can find the right opportunity that clicks with your schedule and fulfils your goals for living in that country. You might not expect it but jobs like housekeeper, babysitter, kitchen worker, etc. can also teach you a great deal about the work culture.
Network and apply for job openings
If you don’t know where to start looking for jobs, the best way is to find out through trusted friends. They can direct you towards the right place and job. Word of mouth is not always a successful method so try the following methods to begin your search:
- Make a resume and keep printed copies with you. You can give these out to places around your residence where you see a sign for vacancy. Most places don’t post about jobs formally
- Join a social media group at your campus that focuses on finding work-related opportunities
- Find out which professional networking app is the most popular in that country and create your profile. If it is in the local language, get help from someone and set that up. You can browse through the jobs and find useful leads for job applications. LinkedIn is commonly used throughout the world so you must have an impressive profile on this platform.
- When you go for interviews, remember to leave a good impression by dressing appropriately and practising the local language before you go.
Balance work and school commitments
Focusing on your academics should be your first priority and work should not take over your life and cause more stress. However, if you are under extraordinary economic difficulties and working is a necessity for you rather than an opportunity to increase your experience, then you can use the following tips to keep a healthy balance between work and education responsibilities:
- Balance your classes and shifts by properly planning in a calendar for time management. This will help you avoid over committing or having clashes between university and job
- Be realistic and say ‘no’ when required even if the opportunity being offered to you makes you feel good about yourself. Keep your planner in front of you before committing to any extra work or extracurricular activities
- You can make your tasks easier by breaking them down into simpler tasks so then they can be done on different days in smaller chunks
- Make sure you have time for sleep, eat healthy and exercise. This will present any burnout and you will stay emotionally healthy as well
Take advantage of on-campus resources and support
Finding part-time work can get difficult especially if you are facing adjustment issues and your mental health is suffering too. Don’t forget that almost all university campuses have help in the form of the following:
- Financial aid and scholarship offices- they can help if you are going adverse family situations
- Counselling services– If you are not being able to function due to your mental health, you might need professional help or medication