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Working as a student: how, why and where

barista pouring a coffee
Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Alex, BSc Geology and Physical Geography 

For many students, working part time is a great way to make living in Edinburgh more affordable. As someone coming to Edinburgh after living in a small town for most of my life, I noticed a massive increase in variety of work that you can do when your living in a city like Edinburgh. No matter what you are best at there’s always a position for you.

Why should I work?

I believe working whilst at uni is a great way to work on your employability skills such as teamwork, problem solving, communication and organisation. Coming out at the end of your degree with 4+ years of experience in an industry, even if it isn’t what you intend to do afterwards, gives you a backup to work in after you graduate whilst you search for your dream career and an extensive amount of transferable skills.

barista pouring a coffee

By Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Will it affect my studies?

Overall, I don’t find it to make too much of an impact on my studies. The university recommends you don’t work over 16 hours a week and I find this amount ideal. Usually I take 2 shifts a week, a weekend shift and a weekday shift. Almost all my friends have jobs – and all of us manage perfectly well! As long as you don’t take on a ridiculous number of hours you should be fine!

How do you plan your time around it?

Managing time around work is probably the most difficult aspect of having a job at uni. At first, I was a bit of a disaster and would leave things till last minute and end up going straight from work to sitting up till 1am in the library to finish off work I should have done wayyy earlier. The more I got into the swing of things, the easier it was to plan around working.

student studying

By Green Chameleon on Unsplash

What I like to do, is at the beginning of every week, make a to-do list and make sure that everything I need done before the following week is done by Sunday. Another method I use is to just try get things done as soon as I can, even just making a start on an assignment so if I need to, I can get it done quickly in time.

So where can I work?

Barista/Catering Assistant

Despite having worked over 10 different part time or temporary positions already, my current job as a barista and catering assistant at Level’s Cafe on Holyrood Road has to be one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

man working at christmas markets

Festival Temporary Work

In August, Edinburgh comes alive with the largest art festival in the whole world; The Fringe, as well as an array of other festivals such as the Royal Military Tattoo and the International Book Festival.

Bar Staff

There is definitely no shortage of bars around Edinburgh so if this is something you are interested in, there’s a lot of places to apply to. I’ve never worked on a bar myself, but all my friends who do seem to enjoy it. However, working on a bar may mean you have to work late nights, even if you have uni the next day.

Bar work

By Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Students Association

Working for the students association will generally give you pretty flexible working hours (as most their staff are students) and you’ll never have to travel far for work. You can be called to work different places depending on where they need you such as the Wrap Bar at Kings, Pottershop at Central and Pollock Shop in Pollock Halls.

Tourist Shops

If you can speak a foreign language, then working in a tourist shop is a great idea as they tend to look for people who can speak more than one language. There is an abundance of tourist shops on the Royal Mile and on Princes Street, and they are often looking for weekend staff. Places such as Dynamic Earth and the Museum, are some other great places to apply to if working with people is your thing!


Strangely, Edinburgh doesn’t have a major shopping centre in the city centre or close to the uni, but Princes Street still boasts an abundance of retail stores such as Primark, H&M, and countless others.


By Erik McLean on Unsplash

Food Service

One of my favourite things about Edinburgh is the variety of restaurants and takeaways. Nicholson Street is a two minute walk from Central campus and has an insane amount of food places.

Summer Work

Currently, I’m working at a fruit farm picking berries. Other summers I’ve worked in a factory and I’ve worked at a summer camp in China. There’s also some great internships out there (talk to the careers advisor for more info!), I applied for a couple but they were sadly cancelled before I could find out/confirm my place. The Uni also has an internship scheme for second years and above over the summer.

Work on the Blog!

I really love writing the blog! It’s a great way to get your thoughts down and talk about what it is that makes you love Edinburgh so much. If you use social media a lot, it’s also a great way to make better use of your time rather than scrolling through instagram for hours.

I hope you found this helpful, let us know if you have any working as a student tips!

Best of luck on your search!

~Alex, MEarthSci Geology


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