Part-Time Jobs: An International Student Perspective

Posted on: 14 November 2022 by Aditi Gupta in Hints, tips and advice

This blog from Aditi, our International Employability Experience Graduate Intern, covers the key benefits and advantages of having a part-time job during studies from an international student perspective.

As international students are starting to settle into their new environments in Liverpool, a significant number will start to consider taking up a part-time role. This may be primarily because studying in the UK can understandably prove to be a little expensive. If you are looking to cover your cost of living, part-time jobs are a great way to have an additional source of revenue.

Moreover, your future employer(s) may look for certain skills that you have gained through previous experiences – be it through volunteering, positions of responsibility or coursework with a group. Part-time roles prove to be a popular type of work experience that offers an opportunity to develop these key employability skills, alongside your studies.   


Developing and highlighting transferable skills 

International students can often feel that certain types of part-time job roles are not relevant to their degree and hence, not worthy to take up. However, the UK job market operates slightly differently in this aspect as employers in the UK value the transferable skills you have learned from these job roles.  

What are transferable skills?  

Transferable skills tend to be soft skills that you develop from various different contexts like your academic programme, volunteering activities, internships, participation in student societies and part-time jobs. These skills can be applied in the future across various job roles and sectors, proving to be incredibly advantageous in general. 

So regardless of the type of part-time job role you decide to pursue, you are sure to pick up some useful transferable skills along the way that your future employer may consider of service. 

Let’s consider a graduate job role as a financial consultant. In this role, you would be required to communicate effectively with clients for the purposes of assessing their financial needs and advising on issues related to taxes, investment and insurance. 

Your part-time job role as a barista in a local café can add value to your future job role as you have had experience of working in a customer-facing role. Your part-time role has helped you develop effective interpersonal and verbal communication skills which can be transferred to the context of your future job role and prepare you better for your graduate role(s).  

Improving English language skills 

As English may not be the first language of many international students, part-time job roles are a great way to practice your English-speaking abilities. A customer-facing role in a retail or hospitality environment can provide you with an opportunity to interact with fellow students, local customers and other colleagues and really boost your English language skills. It might be the case that your employer may view your international status negatively and equate it with your inability to speak English. However, part-time job experience will demonstrate to your future employer that you have the capability to be proficient in English in a professional UK setting, along with your proficiency in other languages. Be sure to capitalize on this in your future job applications!  

Gaining exposure to the UK work context

Your work experience in the UK context, even if it is through a part-time job, will add value to your CV in several different ways. Here are a few examples of how your part-time job experience may be viewed from the employer’s perspective. 


Moving to a new cultural context and adjusting to a completely different work environment can be a frightening experience for some individuals. However, your experience of working in the UK commercial context will highlight that you have got what it takes to be adaptable. If your employer may think that you may not be able to adjust to the business culture in the UK considering your upbringing in a different country, part-time jobs will prove that you have got a major transferable skill in your toolkit – adaptability. Employers are looking for employees who have the capability to embrace changing times and changing environments and who are ready to face challenges with a positive mindset. Be sure to capitalize on this strong demonstration of your adaptability skill that your part-time job offers to you. 

Commercial awareness 

Working part-time in the UK can help you develop a sense of business practices in the UK and showcase your real-life experience of working in the UK commercial environment. Moreover, if you have some experience from your home country, that would demonstrate that you possess commercial awareness of two different contexts. So taking up a part-time job role can provide you with that international exposure and your potential future employers are sure to view this business acumen of yours as a plus! Along with this, your experiences in two different countries can be used to highlight your cultural sensitivity abilities which employers may consider to be a benefit if they have international operations/clients. 

Self-management skills 

Having a part-time job alongside studies reflects your ability to balance your time effectively between studies, work, co-curricular activities and social life. This indicates that you have the ability to manage your time in an effective manner. It would also demonstrate your proactive approach toward your career planning and portray you as a sincere candidate who has a great work ethic. If your future employment would involve fast-paced work in high-pressure environment then your employer will consider your self-management and time-management abilities to be a great benefit that would enable you to succeed in your graduate role.  


Building professional and personal networks  

As someone who has been in your shoes, I understand that moving to a different country and getting accustomed to their ways can be a little daunting. It can often feel starting from scratch, especially when you are trying to build your social circle. Part-time jobs are an excellent way to make new friends and build that sense of community. This will help in increasing your sense of community and get you adjusted to your new Liverpool environment faster and better. 

Additionally, part-time jobs can lead to building of your professional network which you can make the most of after graduation. The contacts that you build during these roles can open doors for you in the future, especially in the form of full-time employment. Along with this, your employers/managers from your part-time roles may even agree to serve as your referees who can provide recommendations for you.  

How do you capitalize on your part-time job experience?

UK employers see value in the skills that you have to offer to them. The skills that they are looking for in their candidates can be understood from their person specification that will list out their essential and desirable criteria. During application/selection processes, try to highlight these transferable skills from a variety of previous experiences, including those gained from part-time job roles.   

For example, in competency-based questions, you will be asked to think of a time when you demonstrated/used a certain skill. In order to answer such questions in an effective way, you will need to give evidence of a past experience when you demonstrated that skill in real life. Your “rightly framed” examples from your part-time job roles will prove to be excellent sources of examples that may lead you to securing that job. 

Your seemingly irrelevant part-time job role can add real value to that future job you have your heart set on. Always try to think about the different skills you can gain from your part-time role which may range from resilience to self-reliance to cultural sensitivity and adaptability and try to bring evidence of these transferable skills to your application and selection processes.  


If you are looking for a part-time job, head over to Handshake look for opportunities and check out our resource on finding part-time jobs. Be sure to visit the Career Studio for any support with your application!