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5 Jobs PhD Students Can Do at Their University

We know that funding your PhD can be a tricky business. With only a lucky few benefitting from a full studentship, most students will need to get creative in order to cover the costs of their research.

When it comes to seeking paid work as a PhD researcher, a Graduate Teaching Assistantship may be the first option that comes to mind (this is where you’ll be compensated for taking on teaching responsibilities within your department).

However, there are many other ways to shore up some extra cash without ever having to stray from campus.

We’ve taken a look at a few roles you could apply for.

#1 Library Assistant

For an especially short hop from your all-night study session to your morning shift, why not apply for a job at your university’s library?

This will normally involve helping fellow students use the electronic catalogue, locate books, and navigate the labyrinthian experience that is operating a library printer – all while becoming (even more) intimately familiar with the Dewy Decimal System.

#2 Postgraduate Student Ambassador

Most universities hire student ambassadors to work at open days and other events. Your duties could include leading campus tours, helping deliver workshops and presentations and manning information stands at study fairs. You might also contribute to social media accounts, write testimonials, or help create promotional video content.

The role of the student ambassador is straightforward – it mainly involves imparting wisdom about the topic you know best (being a postgraduate student), and taking full advantage of any leftover refreshments post-event. What more could you ask for?

#3 Laboratory Assistant

Many Science and Engineering departments employ PhD students researching a relevant subject as Laboratory Assistants. This might include demonstrating experiments for undergraduate students, helping with preparatory work for lab activities and assisting with administrative work.

Besides bringing in extra income, this can obviously be an excellent way to get practical experience which will boost your future research career.

#4 Residence Life Mentor

Cast your mind back to your undergraduate days, and you may have a vague recollection of the friendly student mentor who would pop in every week or so to check that you were still alive, well, and not on the brink of a murderous feud with your noisy flatmates.

While not necessarily a the most common choice for PhD students, the role of Residence Life Mentor can be a very convenient (and rewarding) one for those not opposed to living in university accommodation or getting embroiled in the occasional drama.

Most universities require mentors to live on campus but will at least partially cover the cost of rent alongside hourly payments, meaning you could save a significant amount of money on housing!

#5 Exam Invigilator

Unenthusiastic as you may be to get back in the exam hall, invigilating can be an easy and convenient way to make some extra cash during your PhD – and many universities hire students doing postgraduate research degrees for this role.

We can’t promise it’ll be the most stimulating of tasks, but all that pacing up and down columns of desks is sure to rack up a considerable step count, and who knows – you might just have an academic brainwave or two while you’re waiting for the minutes to tick by.


For more ideas, visit the careers section of your university’s website, which will usually advertise casual roles for students. You can also learn about more ways to finance your studies in our funding section.




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Last Updated: 18 August 2022