Working through med school: Part 1 Summer Jobs
If you’re on this blog I probably don’t have to tell you that medschool alone is hard work. I also probably don’t have to tell you that student loans and grants aren’t always enough to keep you in mildliners and vodka. This series is about my experience of earning 💰 in medschool: where I worked, how I balanced the hours, etc. This will also apply to other degree courses! My experience is of the UK, but I imagine it’s not too different to the US.———————————————–
During my preclinical years (1&2 in the UK) I had massive 4 month long summer holidays. So whilst my colleagues were finding themselves in India or Vietnam, I was finding work. There are lots of seasonal jobs that are happy to have you for 3-4 months, especially in capital cities and tourist hotspots (all of my summer jobs were in London).
My first summer job was actually the summer before I started my course. I was lucky enough to get a paid position at the 2012 Olympics in security. Obviously the Olympics don’t come around every year, but security work for summer events, festivals and sports is definitely worth looking into. I worked as many hours as I could, up to 100p/w as the pay was good and the rota was mostly a turn up and hope they can use you system. This was by far my most lucrative job, but also involved long shifts, nights and lots of abusive drunks.
My second summer job, bizzarely was at Buckingham Palace, which I stumbled on after googling summer jobs. Sadly, I wasn’t personal assistant to the queen. I worked 37 hours a week in their gift shops, which expand in the summer months. I got free tickets and a free hot meal everyday, which almost made up for the minimum wage pay and ridiculous uniform. This job was a bit boring, and the pay wasn’t as good as others. I also interviewed to work at an airport, using my training from the Olympics, but Buckingham Palace was a shorter commute for the same pay.
My final summer job was at Imperial College London (this is not my actual university, I studied outside of London). They open their student halls as a hotel for tourists during summer. I was able to earn £10p/h as a receptionist for this makeshift hotel. Again this was a bit of a boring job, but often the check in lines kept us busy. Lots of hotels take on extra staff in summer, and I’m sure Imperial isn’t alone in opening their student halls. This year I also interviewed for a steward job at the London Eye (but Imperial paid better).————————————————–
All in all, I was able to earn £5-8k in a summer, depending on the pay and hours of the place I worked. Ofc this was working 37-100hrs a week, doing my fair share of night shifts and long day. Definitely enough to supplement your student finance, but it also meant no cool holidays with my friends.
I was lucky enough to have family in London, but if you don’t, lots of seasonal places can set up accommodation for you (that you’ll have to pay a fair amount for). Another unexpected cost was the travel in London ~£70 p/w.
**Emergency tax: I was put on the emergency 20% tax code for each of these 3 summer jobs, temporary employers don’t seem to care much about filling in the right tax forms for you. I waited for my tax refund the following may/June, but lots of my friends spoke to HMRC so they could get their taxed money back straight away.**
As a last resort, I know that lots of minimum wage jobs don’t expect you to hang around for too long. I’ll speak about my term-time jobs in part 2, but at at least one of them students would often turn up to work just for summer. Some lied about how long their break was, or taking a gap year, others were just honest about wanting to work 3 months and got lucky.
I hope this was of interest to some of you, my ask is open if you have any questions. Part 2 will be up soon, about the part-time jobs I had during term time and clinical placements…