So, you’ve found yourself in a position where you need to find a job to pay the bills before you can start to think about your dream career. Don’t panic – you are not alone
Thankfully, there are many places you can look for ‘immediate start’ vacancies, and for help finding accommodation.
Being in this position can be particularly stressful, so don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you are finding it all too much, the University’s Counselling service and your college’s welfare provisions (including the dean team, welfare reps and peer supporters) should be able to offer some support. If you prefer to speak to someone unaffiliated with the university or your college, Oxford SU publishes a list of external resources available in Oxfordshire. If you are not based in Oxfordshire, there are still a range of organisations you can turn to for support. You can also speak to your GP, or find a counsellor through the Counselling Directory.
You may find a permanent full-time job quickly. However, this is not always possible. An alternative option is to consider part-time vacancies or temporary (fixed-term contract) work to bring in some money while you find a more permanent role. Part-time opportunities exist across all industry sectors, and are easily found for positions in tutoring, care, administrative/office work, marketing, advertising, PR, research as well as hospitality and retail. If you can organise yourself and your time, you can have multiple part time roles.
Here are some great places where you could look for an ‘immediate start’ position, either full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary, depending on your preferences and availability:
Colleges, conference venues, hotels
Many Oxford Colleges employ casual members of staff throughout the conference periods (outside term), and particularly in the Long Vacation. These positions usually involve undertaking housekeeping or hospitality roles. Some colleges may even provide subsidised accommodation and/or some meals (although this may not be the case universally). If you aren’t in Oxford, other universities may have similar roles available.
Alternatively, conference venues and hotels may be offering similar casual or temporary contracts in housekeeping and hospitality roles during busy periods. Throughout the summer in particular, universities and other education providers may host conferences or summer schools where you may be able to find work.
The ‘Opportunities Search’ on CareerConnect can be filtered by location, sector and ‘opportunity type’. With the lattermost filter, you can search specifically for fixed-term positions, positions with an immediate start and internships, among other choices.
Agencies can be a great way to source temporary work which hopefully can sustain you while you search for your dream job. Recruitment agencies can also provide more information of permanent positions. For more information on using agencies to find both temporary and permanent work, see our briefing on ‘Using Agencies’. We also recommend looking at the University’s Temporary Staffing Service.
Many towns and cities frequented by tourists (like Oxford) have companies offering guided tours. If you know an area, you might consider becoming a guide for one or more tours.
Tutoring can be rather lucrative, and you can choose to teach at any level from primary up to degree level.
Consider working for a summer school – Oxford and plenty of other university towns will run a variety of summer schools.
Consider becoming a mentor for the NCS – programme delivery staff are needed across the country, particularly during school holidays.
Childcare roles can often be somewhat flexible, with working hours variable depending on the job. These roles may be primarily part of a private arrangement, or you could join an agency. You should note that to be a childminder (looking after someone else’s children in your own home), you will need to register with the relevant authority (Ofsted in England, Care Inspectorate Wales in Wales or the Scottish Care Inspectorate in Scotland). Nanny and Au Pair roles may include accommodation as part of the remuneration package. You may need to apply for a DBS check for this type of work.
Local Authorities (city, district and county councils, etc.) often advertise vacancies with a fairly quick start. Councils may also advertise for Teaching Assistant positions or roles as carers, which may provide some flexibility.
Research groups often need assistants, and you may find that your department (or indeed a department at another university) has need for a research assistant to assist in the smooth running of a lab or with other research-related tasks.
Local shops, restaurants and pubs are a common source of vacancies. While applying to adverts through the website for larger national chains may work in some cases, contacting local businesses directly to ask when/if they might be hiring, and if they can keep your details on file can lead to finding work, particularly if your availability coincides with any times where they might be struggling to fill a staff rota.
Local newspapers will advertise vacancies, as will Oxford information papers like DailyInfo.
If you can, let people based in the area know that you’ll be looking, and ask them for their advice. Word-of-mouth is often vital, as temporary work like vacation jobs isn’t always well advertised.
Accommodation is expensive and the first thing you need to work out is what can you afford, bearing in mind that if you want to rent you must take into account a deposit, the first month’s rent, bills and contents insurance. It may be cheaper in the short term to look at alternatives before finding a more suitable longer term solution.
You may be able to stay in college. Details and costs will vary between Oxford Colleges, but you should be able to find information in your College handbook, or by speaking to the relevant office. Information on grants or sources of funding to meet these costs are usually found in your College handbook or you can speak to your College’s Academic office. If you want to stay in Oxford, this could provide a viable temporary solution.
Oxford Alumni may also be willing to help. Groups exist all over the world and are a rich source of information. You can also talk to your College alumni/development officer to see what help your college alumni network might be able to provide.
Local universities or student hostels often have cheap accommodation available.
Listing sites like Craigslist or Gumtree often advertise short lets. Airbnb is also a good place to look for short-term accommodation.
Facebook groups can also be helpful (although there may not be groups everywhere). Some useful groups in Oxford might include: Oxgradhousing, Oxford Housing Group, Homes for Queers in Oxford.
Property search sites, such as Zoopla and Rightmove, commonly advertise longer-term private lets. You may be able to use these to find somewhere you can move into fairly quickly and on a more permanent basis.
Oxford University Student Union provides support for students who have suspended their studies. The information booklet created by SusCam (the Suspended Students Campaign) provides lots of information about the process of suspension and who to go to for support on various issues. Advice is also available from Student Advice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your college will also provide advice on the procedures and your responsibilities before, during and after your period of suspension. They will be able to advise on what access you have to university and college facilities and advise on financial arrangements during your suspension.
Book a 1-1: Our Careers Advisors will be happy to discuss any of this with you – Short discussion appointments can be booked through CareerConnect and are held throughout the vacations when the university is open. If you are not in Oxford, please contact Reception by telephone on 01865 274646 or by email to email@example.com as we can organise for appointments to take place remotely if needed.