Should you get a part-time job at uni?
To get a job or not to get a job, that is the question. For some of you, you may not have much of a choice. But it's important to know that you have lots of options for earning extra cash, from on-campus positions, promotion work, waitressing, and career-relevant work, to retail and customer service. The most important thing is to be realistic - know your options and your limits when looking for the right job.
Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:
• Money makes the world go around, we all realise that at some point in our lives, and for many of us it’s during the first week of uni when you realise how much washing up liquid you can go through in a week. A bit of extra cash can go a long way towards a weekly grocery shop or night out and a part-time job during term time can be a fantastic source of funds.
• You can gain new skills in time management, customer service, multitasking, promotional work, etc.
• You will also gain the valuable experience of learning to work in a professional environment where you need to deal professionally with customers, co-workers and supervisors.
• A part-time job will also provide you with new opportunities, potential careers, and the ability to work your way up in your chosen field. After a year in part-time retail, I was given the option of helping with store audits, a choice which led me my chosen post-grad field of chartered accountancy, something I wouldn’t have considered otherwise since I’m working towards an English degree.
• It is the perfect solution to potential boredom. There may be moments at uni when all the deadlines have passed, the coming ones have yet to arrive, and you find yourself with nothing to do on a Saturday morning other than to recover from the night before. A part-time job will give you something productive to do with the bonus of getting paid.
• When you have a part-time job alongside your degree, free time is scarce. On applying for jobs, I had assumed that my working hours – 16 a week – would come out of my Netflix and Pringles time, but in truth, it came out of my sleep and study time. This time management becomes more difficult when you've got exams and deadlines. Sometimes it can be difficult to arrange days off, particularly if your work primarily employs other students as they all need days off too. It's important to remember that your employer is still trying to run a business and isn't necessarily going to put their priorities aside to suit your schedule.
• You may miss social events, won’t be able to go home on weekends or during holidays, and if you have an early shift, may have to forfeit a night out for an early bedtime. Some weeks you may find yourself less inclined to attend lectures if it’s going to be followed up by a six-hour shift pouring drinks.
• Finding relevant work is a challenging task, it can be easy to sink into a waitressing or retail job. Although you will still gain essential skills, don’t give up looking for a part-time job in your future career.
• Depending on where you work, you may have to face the truth of minimum wage and an unsatisfying payslip at the end of a month of hard work and commitment.
• If it’s your first job, you will find it challenging combining a new city and heavy workload with a part-time job. I have seen many students quit where I work in the first few weeks, unable to balance their commitments, but then again, you have to learn sometime?
Ultimately, in my two years in part-time work alongside my course, I have made great friends, acquired good skills – audit, customer service, time management – that helped when I was applying for my grad job and accounting programs. Going into it, it’s important to know that any job takes commitment and more than just the promise of money to be a successful experience.
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