Finding work during the holidays

A brown pin board with red lines connecting the words 'areer' in the middle to 'goals', 'education', 'interests' and 'skills'.

With the Autumn term now over, you might have some spare time while not in lectures, seminars or labs. While it is important to rest and get ready for the new term, you might be thinking about taking on some temporary vacation work. Vacations are a great time to earn some money and improve your employability without fully committing to a permanent job during term time.

What kind of job can I get?

It really depends what you’re looking for and where you look. You might find vacation work in the hospitality sector, from bar work or waiting in restaurants. In the summer, the holiday camp industry tends to pick up, with roles like activity leaders or summer camp workers increasing. Likewise, during busy periods like Christmas, the retail sector tends to have openings for Christmas temps. Over Spring, farms might require some more help with activities like fruit picking. You might also find temporary tuition work, care work, or even work that can be done remotely.

Where can I look for vacation jobs?

  • My Jobs Online is a great way to find temporary work. By logging in and clicking on the ‘Opportunities’ tab, you can search the portal for available jobs. Filter your preference to ‘Vacation work’ to find out what is available on a temporary basis.
  • Campus jobs may also have temporary or casual work available on campus. These roles might be anything from being student ambassador to working in one of the campus bars or cafes. You can search and apply for jobs via the portal on their website and the entire process is managed by the University.
  • You can also go into shops or local pubs and cafes directly to ask if they have roles available. Even if they may not have anything at the time, you might be able to leave your details with them in case an opportunity arises in the future.

What should I think about when looking for a holiday job?

  • Time: It’s advisable to work out how much time you can commit to a job, especially if you have any holidays booked or exams or coursework to work on over the holidays. Employers may ask during the application stage what your availability is, so it is good to have an idea of this beforehand.*
  • Travel: Thinking about how far you can travel and how much you can spend on travel (for example, train or bus fares, or petrol costs) before you begin applying will help to narrow down your search and also avoid any circumstances where you may accept a role and then realise that it is difficult to get to.
  • Skills: If you have had a job before or undertaken any work experience, listing these will help you to identify your skills and experience that could be relevant to roles you are applying to and interviewing for.
  • Your CV and cover letter: It is useful to ensure that your CV and a draft cover letter are up to date and easy to amend for when you wish to apply for a position. If you’re not sure, or would like a second opinion, book in for a 1:1 careers appointment with the Careers Service to have your CV reviewed! If you are a Henley Business School student, you can book here.

*If you are an International Student on a Tier 4 visa, please see this webpage outlining guidance for working in the UK.

How does a temporary job help my employability?

A temporary job can develop your transferrable skills and provide you with expertise and knowledge in a specific sector. For example, if you are working in a café, you’ll likely be working in a team to make sure that the customers are served, the café is clean, and there’s enough stock. This is a role that requires interpersonal skills, time management, teamwork, and initiative. Take a look at this post by Graham Phillpot, Head of Careers Consultancy at Reading, for more on why part-time jobs make you employable.

Domonique Davies

Careers Information and Events Assistant