Working students in Poland

Those studying full-time have part-time jobs for some extra spendings, extramural work full-time to support themselves. How do Polish students earn their living?

The times when students were supported by their parents until graduating are long gone. 52% of students already start working in their first year of studies or even earlier. Today’s labour market offers young people plenty possibilities for those who are in need of pocket money or simply have to make ends meet due to their financial situation.

The young generation often considers their future career when starting studies. Students take up a job and juggle it with lectures hoping to capitalise on it later on in their professional life. This practice is very common nowadays, since employers now require more and more from their potential employees. A diploma is not enough to get a decent job – other factors like job experience are also very valuable. A candidate who has already been professionally active is much more attractive in an employer’s eyes. Such a worker is already familiar with working environment rules and aware of the discipline that is required from an employee. Apart from that, the ability of juggling studying and working shows determination and multitasking skills.

Ideally, a job combined with studies would match what one studies. Of course, it cannot always be a job in a particular vocation/at a certain post, but experience in a branch already is greatly appreciated. Therefore, a lot of students look for jobs in barrister’s chambers as assistants or in offices. However, when working full-time, students are often forced to move to extramural education, gaining work experience for meagre pay at a cost of compromising quality of their education.

Statistically speaking, Poles are a bit behind in terms of working while studying. Data from the 4th quarter of 2007 (Eurostat) show significantly smaller professional activity among Polish youth in comparison with some of their European peers. Polish rate of professional activity of people aged 15-24 was different than the European average by around 10% and was slightly below 30%. However, the situation is changing.

employment rate 2007

(click to enlarge)

Young people start to understand  the need of taking up a job while studying. This was confirmed in a poll conducted in March 2010 on one of the career-dedicated portals. The users were asked when they started working during their studies. 41% of those asked indicated that it was their 3rd or previous year. 11%  and 8% declared to had started working in their 4th and 5th year respectively. 15% started working only after graduating. 25% never worked while studying.

On average 41% of all types of students juggle work and studies. However, the proportions between the types are essentially different. For extramural students the rate is 69%, for night students 41%, but only 6% for full-time students. The latter have most problems finding employment.

In rich countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany or Switzerland 55-60% of pupils and students work. Especially in higher education a dual system which combines studying and working is promoted. It requires less hours spent at the university, but requires more individual work at home, which can be easily suited to working hours. In Poland such a system is non-existent which explains the fact that full-time students hardly ever can work. They are expected to spend long hours at the universities, leaving them virtually no time to work. Therefore, they prefer easier work like tutoring with flexible hours, or decide to skip classes to make it to their shift.


 by Katarzyna Liszka, Martyna Dzido, Aleksandra Pułyk, Patrycja Perzyńska