Two thirds of students worked at Christmas to fund courses and forward careers

Students are waking up to the tough realities they will face this summer as fears grow for 2009’s graduates.

In a survey by graduate recruitment website Milkround, two thirds of students took on Christmas vacation work to battle student debt and gain vital skills to add to their CV.

The majority claimed they were unable to live without the extra cash and more than a third said it would be valuable experience to further their careers.

One respondent said: “I gained skills such us working individually as well as in a team, working on set targets and deadlines” while another claimed they worked “purely to earn more money as [their] student loan does not support [them] fully at University”.

Two in five earned between £200 and £400 to add to their student kitty, and another three in 10 took home between £400 and £800 in bids to keep funds readily available into the New Year.

Retail was the most popular industry choice, attracting 40 percent of respondents, followed by services (12 percent) and sales (10 percent).

Although the vast majority (85 percent) of students took on jobs outside their ideal career this Christmas, they believed that this would help them with applications for further roles due to the transferable skills they picked up.

Of those who found work in the area they hope to continue in for their career, eight percent dedicated their holiday to full time employment while seven percent did part time work.

The survey of more than 150 students also found a third of students didn’t work at all over Christmas.

Two fifths of these claimed they could not find suitable jobs, while more than a quarter had too much university work to complete, preventing them taking on paid work.

Some 58 percent claimed not working was the right option for them, preferring to get ahead on their course, concentrate on seeing family and friends or use the time to relax.

Milkround spokesman Mike Barnard said:

“University vacations are ideal times for students to get into the world of work if they aren’t during term time to earn extra cash and gain valuable experience. The bleak outlook for 2009’s graduates means those in their final year who did make the effort, or had the time, to get employed for even the shortest period should be pleased with themselves.

“The skills they learned will give them an extra edge over other candidates in what will be a crowded and competitive graduate job market come the summer.”

He added: “Those finalists who didn’t get the chance to work, or couldn’t find employment, should look to the Easter vacation if they feel their CVs aren’t up to scratch or want to improve their chances of getting a job come July.”

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