Pros & Cons of 4 Part Time Jobs for College Students in Malaysia

When I was in college – and by college I mean the combined time I spent studying for diploma, degree and masters – I supplemented my parental and PTPTN allowance with a bunch of part time jobs.

Had to lah. For one, I felt guilty for using FAMA scholarship when getting my diploma and degree, especially after I found out my parents were actually facing financial difficulties during the time. Parents, I tell you, they never tell you anything :'(

For another, looking and finding part time jobs for college students turned out to be a productive way to waste time. It’s procrastination but in a good way. Don’t lie to me – some of you college students reading this, you’re looking for part-time jobs despite haven’t finished your assignments yet correct not?

It’s okay, no judgement. In fact, doing a little work is good for you, beyond the obvious income factor. If your parents make noise, tell them a HSBC-led research said that ‘the academic performance of students who work 10-19 hours per week is superior to their peers‘.

In this article, I want to share the pros and cons of different types of part time jobs for college students in Malaysia. Let’s start.

#1 – Booth attendant / Promoter / Event staff

I did a few of these gigs. The ones I remember:

  • Handing out Salonpas samples at multiple pharmacies around KL
  • Manning booths during fairs (the ones at malls)
  • Tasked as a ‘greeter’ at a corporate event

Pros:

  • Good, immediate money. Payment ranged from RM80-200 per day
  • The employers don’t tend to micromanage. They check up once in a while, but mostly leave you to do your work
  • If you do good work, the recruiter may remember and get you again for their next events
  • Personally, manning booths during fairs were busy but quite fun! Time passes by very fast
  • A LOT of opportunities during festive seasons and annual events like book fairs etc

Cons:

  • Tiring. Some of the jobs were all-day jobs, may need to stand for up to 12 hours. You need to be in good health
  • Seems to be competitive (but to be fair what job is not competitive nowadays). I was only hired for maybe 1 out of 10 or so applications I submitted

Places to browse for these jobs: I used Parttimejobs. Upal looks good too. Share more good options in the comments section!

#2 – Focus group

Note: not to be mistaken for online survey jobs. Those pay crap. Focus groups are face-to-face discussions, conducted for the purpose of market research.

Pros:

  • GREAT money. I remember being paid RM200 (if I remember correctly) for one 2-hour session
  • Easy. All you need to do is be there and answer questions by the moderator and give your own personal opinions on a product/service

Cons:

  • You need to fulfil the exact requirement of that focus group setting, and that’s out of your control. Some may need for you to be a car owner. Others need you to be new mother. There’s a reason why I only did a couple of sessions – I didn’t qualify for the rest
  • Timing is fixed. If you can’t make it to the session – usually conducted during office hours – too bad
  • Not immediate. Upon signing up in focus group platforms, you may have to wait weeks or months to get an invitation you’re qualified for
  • With improvements in technology, I’m not sure if companies still want to shell out money for expensive focus groups tbh. There are other cost-effective ways to conduct market research. I personally think its a dying – if not dead – industry. Feel free to comment
  • Can be spammy. I remember receiving bulk invites via email and text, for focus groups I am not eligible for

Places to browse for these jobs: OpinionHero is one option. comment if you’ve tried it or other platforms.

#3 – Service jobs

Simplistically, there are two ways to make money: sell products or sell services.

As a college student, selling products can be a bit hard because you may not have the money to keep stock – unless you get paid by commission, which I’d argue is no longer a part-time job.

Doing service jobs, on the other hand, is selling your time and skills for cash. You can either browse job sites, or offer your own services. Kaodim is a good place to browse for an overview of service jobs:

Screenshot from Kaodim.com

Personally, I’ve done:

  • Tutoring (at an international school) – for 1 year
  • Waitressing (at a fancy restaurant near my uni in UK) – for a couple of months
  • Catering baked goods – failed before it started

From the limited experience that I had, my favourite was the tutoring one. It paid more and the environment was comfortable.

Pros:

  • Complete autonomy, until you are employed and have to listen to your bosses/clients
  • Sometimes you kind of stumble into it when people around you offer to pay you for the services. For example, I’ve certainly told my friend I’d pay good money for their cookies they made and brought to a potluck, and hired someone for their tech services when I see them posting about it online
  • Technically unlimited income potential

Cons:

  • (For people who know what services they are good at and can sell) Other people take advantage of your passion and use that as an excuse to pay you less. Unsupportive friends and family may ask for discount or even expect it for free. Have to learn to say no
  • (For people who don’t know what skill they can sell) You get stuck in analysis paralysis and can’t pick what to offer
  • Differentiating yourself from other similar service providers might be a challenge
  • You have to learn marketing, networking etc to get potential customers

Places to browse for these jobs: Go to your preferred job listing websites, or if you want to be self-employed, read my How to Get Clients: A Guide for Malaysian Freelancers article

Related:

#4 – Student jobs in uni

Some of your schools may put up student job listings. I’ve heard of people working as lecturer assistants, staff at student bookstore, staff at student cafeteria and more.

Personally, I worked as a student DJ when I was studying at UPM. I’m very sure no one tuned in but it sure was fun lol. Until now I put ‘English DJ at Putra FM’ in my CV.

Pros:

  • Convenient because it’s located right there in school compound
  • May give you perks like discounts, free meals and/or access to areas restricted to students. Gives you bragging rights
  • Easy to find the job listing – just go to the student center. If it’s not displayed, ask where you can find it

Cons:

  • They don’t usually pay well
  • Try not to mess up too badly. May have lasting consequences

Places to browse for these jobs: just go to the student centre. If the job listing is not displayed, ask where you can find it

Last words

Thus concludes the 4 types of part time jobs for college students in Malaysia, its pros and cons, and where you can find them. Am I missing any other types of jobs or platforms?

This article is written for college students in Malaysia looking for jobs (I know its tough out there, hang in there bby), but I’d love to hear from everyone. Share in the comments section your own experience working while studying – what did you do to earn money? Can you share with us how you got the job, and if you’d do it again?

Any tips would be appreciated!

Author

12 comments

  1. Starbucks + 7eleven. yes highly recommend 7eleven. they pay you twice a month, help with financial management as a student. it rarely busy so I got time to study. Starbucks helps you to be more outspoken and multitasking.

    Here what I did during my 2.5 years as law cum international biz student @ UIAM 2009 – 2012

    1. Arrange all my class in the morning and finish at 2 pm, no class on Friday and at the weekend.
    2. Work at 7E from 3 pm – 11 pm (afternoon shift) or midnight shift (11 pm – 7 am) – full time (RM1100. They pay you twice a month so RM550 gross every 2 weeks :D)
    3. Weekend 3 pm – 12 am at Starbucks – part-time (rm6 / hours * 8 hours * 2 shift per week = RM96 * 4 = RM 384 gross)

    I have time to sleep soundly and rest every weekend morning and do what I need to do too.

    From this budget, even though the amount is not close to RM2,000 but it is enough for me to get by every month without asking much help from anyone, have some good soft skills, do my saving and investment.

    4. I also take part in a volunteering program with myHarapan, expose me to lots of things that I could not think of and contribute to who I am today.

    1. Thanks for commenting here Nazirul! I’m so amazed that you factored in timing of your uni classes in order to work while studying. Wow, much respect honestly

  2. Uni days:
    Barista at San Francisco Coffee
    Cashier at MBO
    Multiple event jobs (10AM – 10PM) (on weekends, or sometimes weekdays when I have no class)
    Delivering items via Goget (app)
    Cashier/Trainer for a trampoline park

    I recommend it! It helps boost your resume when you’ve graduated (time management + self motivated). I always tell myself to get a job I’m actually interested in or keen to learn something from. Like how to make good coffee and how to differentiate it with bad coffee.

    Where I found these jobs:
    parttimeasia (not sure what happened to the site now, can’t seem to find it)
    FB groups (Just put in keywords like part time KL, part time selangor to get something within your area)
    Malls/Stores near me, so its convenient. Don’t take a job too far away from your uni/home. It’s such a drag to get there.

    My tip: Do something you like. You’ll learn something along the way and your employer will definitely be able to catch your enthusiasm. As much as it is about the money, always remember that you’re there to learn new things!

    1. Thanks for commenting here, Mei! Love your tips about location (nearer is convenient!) and picking jobs that you’re interested in learning. Attitude is everything 🙂

  3. I wrote something similar on the blog last year about working part time while studying:
    http://syazanazura.com/2018/10/working-part-time-while-studying-is-it-a-good-idea.html

    I’ve personally had multiple part time jobs while I was in university for both undergrad and postgrad. Definitely recommend working part time if you can manage your time well because you get to meet other people and brush up on skills and resume.

    Most of my jobs are on-campus jobs (International students in the US are limited to on campus jobs), but I am currently doing one which is ~25 mins train ride away from my place (I study in Huddersfield and work in Leeds). But it’s a weekend job so traveling to work while studying is still manageable ☺️

  4. I did mainly two jobs:

    During semester:
    – Weekend “sampling promoter” girl. Got paid RM60 a day, which was not too bad considering the alternative was to get paid based on commission – more lucrative but I wasn’t sure if I could move that much so I didn’t take that option. The person who hired me was a customer of the mom’s.

    Semester break:
    – General MPH store staff. I worked almost all day every day except during my scheduled off days. Pay was decent (I think just under 1k takehome?) and it was used to subsidise the cost of printing assignments and transportation. This one I walked in for interview.

    Would I do it again? The MPH one maybe. On slow days I took the opportunity to read through some of the books under my care, and they had a fairly interesting book lending policy.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Patricia!

      Can you share more about MPH’s book lending policy? Internal policies are fascinating, I’m so curious!

  5. Wow this brings in so much memories that I almost forgot.

    Jobs I did during secondary school and uni days:
    1) Trade exhibitions helpers (mainly helping with crowd coordinating etc), about RM60-70/day. Free meal + get to see the exhibitions for free.
    2) Orchid wrapper, to help wrap orchid plant according to overseas orders at a local farm. Pay was RM250 for 2 days, free meal too.
    3) Occasional hypermarket promoter here and there, between RM80-RM120/day.
    4) Full time HP customer service during STPM year end break
    5) Full time waitress during Form 4 year end break
    6) Full time HSBC credit card redemption counter helper during SPM break
    7) Freelancing in wedding photography using the camera I bought during internship

    There could be other jobs that I did but these were all I remember.
    The truth is, I never stopped working since I started my first job, as my mom has been secretly reducing my allowance and I needed to fund my Japanese class at that time.

    Now I am working a Japanese speaker position, freelancing in photography, and co-owning an Airbnb side business.

    I think uni days were the best time to explore different opportunities, because we had nothing to lose.

    1. Wow Cheryl you did so many things! What nice memories you’ve collected!

      Er, how did you find out your mom secretly reduce your allowance?

  6. Wonderful content as always, and on a topic I’m intensely passionate about!

    I recall my first foray into raking in my own ringgits at 14, where I started a dropshipping business with a friend. (hardly broke even at times haha! but the learning experience was definitely worth it)

    The rest of my secondary school years saw me working a service job at night after school, coupled with sales promoter stints on the weekends. Remember a lot of visits to the discipline office for poor attendance due to late nights at work…

    Fast forward to today as a Pre-U college student, where I’m earning a comfortable amount as a self-employed content and copywriter, and most importantly – am deeply in love with my line of work!

    Always believe that students should break free from the misconception that due to their young age they have to be confined to pay-per-hour / minimum wage jobs. With all the resources we want in the world attainable at our fingertips, we can do so much better.

    Currently a Pre-U student, and r

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