The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

Tips for working while you study

Find out why it's important to thoroughly research your options when it comes to working while you study in another country...

Woman working in a shop part-time

Studying in another country can be expensive if you aren’t taking advantage of bursaries or scholarships, and you can neither rely on your family to fund your studies. It can leave some students in a tough position and somewhat hinder their enjoyment of their time abroad. This is why we recommend researching and organising your finances properly before you leave.


However if you do find yourself struggling to make ends meet, a part-time job is a simple solution. Some worry that they’re missing out on the place that they’re studying in if they take up a job on top of studying; however it is more important that you have the finances to continue your studies as well have accommodation, eat etc. Plus, you can still interact with new people while you work (more so even) and sharpen your language skills in a new context or environment when you interact with them. It will also be very useful if you plan to remain in the country to work once you graduate – a recent reference from that country will give you that extra advantage over other candidates.


There have been some recent reports of international students being unfairly treated by employers in the country where they study, like in this case in America. It should be noted that domestic students are as susceptible, and one of the main reasons this sometimes occurs is because of a lack of information – a problem more so when there is a language barrier.


Regardless, working while you study is a noble way to put yourself through university or college, as well as in building character. Before you begin the part-time job search, consider the following:



Check that your visa allows you to do so

Under certain visa guidelines – like the Tier 4 visa in the UK – some students are not allowed to work. It’s extremely important that you check with someone other than your employer who will either purposely choose not to check properly, or may simply not have enough time to do so – always consider it your responsibility to check. Other visas may allow you to work, but will have limits or guidelines as to how long you can work in a given week, like in New Zealand (you can’t work for longer than 20 hours per week). If you break the rules of your visa, you may be told to leave the country immediately (and you won't have permission to return).


Check out our guidelines for working while a student in the UK, US and Australia.



Ask other (international) students

Swap tips with other students as to who is hiring, and who is considered a positive student employer. Some organisations will have better reputations than others, so it’s worth asking around. A friend may be able to recommend you for a vacant role too if they already work somewhere you would like to like a cool boutique shop (or tell you where to avoid). We usually recommend mixing with other domestic students rather than sticking close to other international students and being quite “cliqueish”; however this is one of those times when it’s beneficial to have friends who are international students as well as they are likely to have (had) the same problem.



Consult your university

Your university can advise you about the best way to go about searching for a part-time job. They will likely have helped many, many students do the same. There will usually be a specific department in the university that deals with careers and employability. and they may well have existing relationships with local businesses, If you’re lucky, they may be able to help you find a job that is also relevant to your degree or the field you want to move into when you graduate.


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About Author

Woman working in a shop part-time

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.