University life

Seven not-so-average part-time jobs

21 Jun 2023, 15:40

If you’d prefer part-time work that’s beyond the ordinary, here are some options that aren’t your standard Saturday jobs.

A lifeguard on duty: Seven not-so-average part-time jobs

Not everyone can say their job responsibilities included doing the conga, singing happy birthday, playing pass the parcel and packing goodie bags.

Part-time jobs are a good, and often essential, way to: a) make ends meet while at university and b) learn employer-friendly skills and life lessons. But wouldn’t it be great if you could add to the list: c) enjoy yourself along the way?

The word ‘fun’ doesn’t spring to mind when you think of the usual student jobs – working in a bar, restaurant, café or shop. At the end of the day, working is never going to be a walk in the park. You’re being paid to get a job done. But there are some job titles that sound a little less mundane than others.

Here's what seven people had to say about their previous part-time jobs – and, crucially, what they got out of their experiences.

Party captain

Birthday parties at indoor soft plays are a mainstay of growing up in the UK. Now you’re too old to race your friends down the slide without getting funny looks and side eyes, why not get paid to run the birthday parties instead? (Or just go to the ball pit for adults in London).

Rachael spent four years as a part-time party captain while at sixth form and university. She says:

‘Not everyone can say their job responsibilities included doing the conga, singing happy birthday, playing pass the parcel and packing goodie bags. Apart from being able to get to the top of the play equipment in 30 seconds (yes, I was timed as part of our fire evacuation plan) and learning that I didn’t want children for at least another ten years , I picked up a load of useful skills. I learned how to communicate with people quite literally of all ages, organisation and time management (you don’t want to ruin a child’s birthday party because you forgot the jelly and ice-cream), and how to negotiate and have a thick skin when dealing with unhappy customers.’

Flyer distributor

One for somebody who doesn’t mind being outdoors in all weathers and/or wearing a questionable costume. You might only think of nightclub promotors promising you free entry before 11.00 pm, but all sorts of companies hire students to get their name out there on campus.

Beth worked for a student lettings agency alongside her university flatmate. She says:

‘We’d work in a pair and take it in turns dressing up in a giant red dog costume or walking next to the dog handing out flyers, branded rulers, key rings, bottle openers etc. We came away with some funny stories (including a stand-off with the Nando’s chicken), but, all in all, I was glad to stop doing it. It was impossible to regulate your temperature in the suit, my flatmate was punched in the face by a child and people forget there’s somebody underneath the suit when they grab you. But the money was decent, it helped us to bond as flatmates, it was good practice talking to members of the public and I learned the meaning of the word footfall.’

Ghost tour guide

If Halloween is your favourite holiday, why not channel that energy every day as a ghost tour guide? Not one for the faint hearted, but perfect for those with a flair for the dramatic. Scaredy-cats can always find work as a regular/historical tour guide.

Amandine worked as a tour guide and storyteller for a walking tour company in Edinburgh. She says:

‘The ghost tour revolved mostly around telling spooky and dark tales of Scottish history, partly outside in graveyards and alleys and partly in underground vaults. At the start of each shift, I’d grab my cape, plastic dagger and plastic whip and head to the tour meeting point. Tours attract a diverse bunch, from die-hard ghost believers to sceptics, children, corporate work days and hen nights. I dealt with hecklers, people who’d had too much to drink, crying babies and even fainters. I learned how to crowd control, hold the attention of a group, allow for every possibility and think on my feet. I also learned that I believe in ghosts – and storytelling is my favourite thing in the world.’

Dog walker

We don’t blame you if you’d rather your job involved working less with people and more with four-legged friends. It might not be a chance to work on your social skills, but it will probably do wonders for your well-being.

Bobby worked at a kennels while at sixth form. He says:

‘I worked part time at a local kennels, where I was responsible for walking, feeding and generally looking after the dogs. I was also responsible for keeping the kennels clean and making sure it was secure when locking up at night. I loved being outdoors and spending time with all of the animals, but it also taught me to be self-motivated. It was important to turn up on time and do my job properly as the dogs relied on me for their routine.’


Your job won’t be as eventful as it’s depicted in Baywatch . You won’t be rubbing shoulders with Dwayne Johnson, Priyanka Chopra and Zac Efron, for a start. But, as long as you can swim and don’t mind committing to ongoing training, you can find paid work as a lifeguard.

Aimee ’s first part-time job was as a lifeguard. She says:

‘My job title was recreation assistant as it involved more than just lifeguarding, such as cleaning the pool and setting up the sports pitches. As it was my first job, I developed my social and teamworking skills and my punctuality (the pool rota was understandably strict). As a lifeguard, you need to stay alert so you can’t talk to people, which isn’t always fun, but the pay was decent and I liked my team and the work culture. The ongoing training was the hardest part of the job but it meant I got to spend a fair amount of time with the other lifeguards. I completed a course and an exam before I started and I had to keep up my lifeguard and CPR training once a month.’

Warehouse operative

If you’re tired of spending too much money on online shopping, why not earn money by packaging up other people’s orders instead? This is your chance to find out how deliveries get from A to B to C, but you’ll need attention to detail and the ability to work under pressure.

Alice worked as an order fulfilment operative at a small local warehouse during the Christmas period. She says:

‘My job involved packaging up vouchers for things like afternoon tea in a range of fancy envelopes and boxes. I was working at speed to find the right vouchers and get all of the orders ready before the Royal Mail collection at the end of the day. It was quite a high-pressure environment – my manager got stressed if we had a lot to do or if we packed things incorrectly. Strangely, I did enjoy it. It was different to any jobs I’d done before and I was working with a small, friendly team. I developed my interpersonal skills, gained some knowledge of the supply chain and how small businesses work, and I’ve since been complimented on my present wrapping!’

Museum volunteer

OK, you won’t get paid for volunteering, but there will also be paid part-time jobs at museums. If you’re lucky enough to land a job at your favourite museum, you’ll basically be paid to learn more about your interest – and then talk about it with others.

Emily volunteered at the National Railway Museum once a fortnight for just over a year. She says:

‘It mainly involved sitting behind the information desk to answer visitors’ questions about the museum and railways generally. That was interesting in itself as I met lots of different people and was asked some very random questions, which I then had to find out the answers to. The really fun part, though, was that we were supposed to experience different aspects of the museum so that we knew exactly what we were talking about when describing the attractions to visitors. Whether it was riding on the miniature railway, steam train journeys or a Flying Scotsman simulation experience, it certainly made a change from studying!’

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