Published on May 16, 2014 | by Sara Ouadnouni

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Professional Students: Can you study for a degree with a full-time job?

A University degree these days does not guarantee you a job and it even sometimes makes it harder for employers to hire someone within their budget as candidates with a degree expect a higher salary than non-Graduates.

Graduate students expect higher salaries than the ones the industry has to offer [LCF]

At the University of the Arts London, there are students juggling jobs and dissertations – such as Rebecca Bourke, who works in finance for Societé Generale. She describes it as the most exciting and fast-paced learning experience she has ever had. She confesses it was really challenging at the beginning and she was scared to quit University, but Rebecca manage to hand in her dissertation last Monday. According to her, she would do it all over again. The secret is being determined and keep sight of your goals.

Working full-time is a total commitment- once you work you lose all the freedom you have when you’re a student; there is no Wednesday late drinking and skipping your lectures the next day. That’s what a student from Central Saint Martin says- once it is Fashion Week or you’re working on a sales campaign there are no sick days.

“I remember this girl while I was interning at Hearst, she was so proactive, she spoke 4 languages and had the best skills to become a successful PR, but during LFW she called in sick- she was instantly fired by my boss” says Thetarina Oo, LCF student.

Thetarina got a part-time internship in her first term at UAL and it is now her full-time job, despite the fact that she has not yet graduated. She works in the PR department at Hearst Magazines UK– despite being a difficult position Thetarina says she would never abandon her degree; she says it is a great way to meet people and get an international perspective.

Working and studying is not for everybody of course, but according to employers it is vital to make the most of the summer breaks during university. To get internships and work experience; a degree is not enough to be a professional.  The University of the Arts London has Arts Temps, which offers students temporary work placements during their degree up until one year after graduation. Student Enterprise and Employability Services (SEE) at the UAL host events which help students to get into the professional network, their website has daily updates on career opportunities from around the globe.

The LCC recently hosted a ‘speed-networking’ event for its graphic design students in which professionals from within the industry came set up a base in the LCC cafeteria and students would spend time moving around the room, in a speed-dating style, to introduce themselves to potential employers and contact for the future.

Mr Fontana, head of Sales of Philipp Plein International, a Swiss Fashion company, 36, told ALN what he looks for in a new recruit; “We want young people in our company, we are ready to invest in new talents and international experience; we are ready to invest in University students. Working is learning; most of our current Sales Managers started their careers as paid interns.”

A degree is not a fail-safe against unemployment but it does offer you a chance to take advantage networking and industry contacts that universities can often offer. It’s also the only time when unpaid internships can be undertaken while you still have the safety net of your student loan. Being proactive and gaining work experience for your CV is one of the best ways of setting yourself up for life after graduation.

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