Work, work, work!!

For most students the prized summer break will actually be spent working – if they can find a job. Almost four in five (79%) say that, compared to previous generations, there is now more pressure to gain work experience over the summer because of student loans and greater competition for jobs after graduation. Female students were particularly strident in their views with 38% going on to say they ‘strongly agree’ students today had it harder compared 29% of male students.

A significant 78% of students also say they feel it’s important to work over the summer months. Again, more female students than male students feel this, as do younger students compared to older students. Those studying IT (50%) and English (56%) are least inclined to see the importance in working over the summer. Those on social studies and business courses are more inclined to see the importance in summer work (86% and 84% respectively).

Motivations

The reasons for summer working were quite varied: Over a quarter (26%) said their primary motivation was to gain work experience that would help them in their future career. Meanwhile, 24% a said they need to work simply to make ends meet. A further 17% said the main reason was to save up towards next year’s living expenses. Year 1 and year 2 undergraduates, compared to older students, are more inclined to work in order to save up for living expenses – year 3 and postgrads are more interested in gaining experience.

Girls just wanna have fun

Interestingly, there were some noticeable differences in summer priorities between male and female students. More female students saw ‘having a rest from their studies’ over the summer as being very important (55% versus 47%). More females also see importance in spending time with family (61% versus 50%), earning money (65% versus 60%) and having fun (62% versus 57%). Meanwhile, more male students see importance in learning something new and getting a job they can proudly put on their CV.

Students in London and Wales were least inclined to see summer as a chance to rest from studies, while Yorkshire had the highest proportion of students who saw rest as ‘very important’. Those in Scotland and Yorkshire were most likely to see summer as an opportunity to have fun.

Enough is enough

Around half (48%) expect to save between £550 and £2,000 to put towards tuition fees or university living costs next year. At the typical hourly rate of just £6-£8 an hour that over half of students (57%) expect to earn, this suggests that at least 92 hours of pay will have to be put aside to meet the £550 target. And to reach the £2,000 saving target, they’ll need to put aside over 333 hours’ worth of wages.

The guys are more ambitious with their saving plans – 52% believe they’ll put away more than £1,000 compared to 37% of female students. One in five (21%) London-based students say they’ll save nothing towards next year’s costs compared to just 2% of students in the North East.

When asked what summer is all about, 63% agreed that it’s important to earn money but, equally, three in five (60%) students recognise that summer is about having fun and spending time with the family (57%). With higher education costs set to rise next year, students may find that their summer is lacking in the latter two categories.

Internships get a bashing

Despite the need to work for short-term gain, students don’t see internships as a way to benefit their career in the longer term. Only one in five (20%) said they felt an internship would give them valuable learning and skills to help their future career. And a similar number – only 22% – believe an internship would improve their employment prospects. Only 7% thought internships were fun. Find out more about your rights as an intern here.

Surviving the summer – our 5 top tips

1. Job-hunt creatively – Don’t just rely on the usual big job sites and student listings. Sure, they’re a great resource, but you can also single out companies you’d love to work for and proactively approach them with an intern proposal, or muscle in with the tech start-ups where you’re more likely to have free rein and can gain brilliant experience.

2. Be confident – You might have less experience than others but energy, enthusiasm and your bright mind will get you a long way. Have belief in your abilities and share your ideas in the workplace.

3. Budget – Fingers crossed you could find yourself earning a pretty penny. Be careful not to get over-excited and spend like there’s no tomorrow. (There is.) Have fun but put some aside for more of the same come term time.

4. Don’t overpay on tax – Most or all of your earnings are likely to be tax free. Make sure your employer isn’t deducting too much from you automatically in your pay packet and know how to claim back anything you might be owed by the government.

5. Shmooze the parents – After living by your own rules all year, a sudden return to family life can conjure many stresses and strains. But play it smart and you’ll find there are plenty of upsides.


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