Finding casual work while studying

It's still possible to find ‘gateway jobs' that allow you to learn while you earn

Nowadays the large majority of students combine part-time work with study. But the clever ones aim to get more than a pay cheque out of their job.

 How to get the most from your job

Students often work in industries such as retail or hospitality while studying. There's nothing wrong with that, especially for those hoping to pursue a career in those fields after graduating, but it's worth considering how you can leverage your existing employment to prepare for the position you aspire to.

There are two ways you can do this: tweaking your existing job or finding one that relates to the career you want. Say you're pulling beers at your local pub while studying bookkeeping at TAFE. On the face of it, there doesn't appear to be much connection between the two activities, but you could ask your boss to let you get involved in cashing up, banking and chasing invoices so as to gain some real-world experience in what you're studying.

And while the growth of internships has made it difficult to get paid part-time employment in many industries, it's still possible to find ‘gateway jobs' that allow you to learn while you earn. Someone studying fashion design, for example, could learn a lot by working as a shop assistant at a cutting-edge fashion boutique.

One last tip: research indicates that once full-time students work more than 20 hours a week, their academic performance starts to decline. So, if possible, avoid the temptation to over commit yourself.

Knowing your rights

Those working on less than around 35 hours a week are typically employed on a part-time or casual basis. Part-timers are entitled to work a minimum amount of hours every week and qualify for sick and holiday pay. In contrast, employers are under no obligation to provide a minimum amount of work or sick or holiday pay to casuals, who usually get ‘casual loading' to compensate for this.

Where to find work

Australia has a buoyant economy, so finding a job shouldn't be too much of a challenge. Your TAFE NSW campus probably has a jobs board, most newspapers have an employment section and there are lots of casual positions advertised on SEEK, CareerOne, MyCareer and other jobseeker sites.

Looking for your best career match? Take the TAFE NSW Career Quiz