Amongst the vast amount of advice given to new students starting university is the reoccurring pitch of gaining a part-time job. There are many pros and cons to having a job while at university, as well as alternative options for making money if a job isn’t for you. Based on my own experiences I think I have some good advice I can give you, so let’s start with the positives.
Benefits of getting a job:
1. Money – This is the main reason we all reluctantly decide to get a job. For students it’s a great way to survive between loan payments and splurge on those luxury extras.
2. Experience – The dreaded word we all hear, but it is true. Gaining a part time job at university is a great way to gain experience for your CV and it shows that you are great at balancing your work load.
3. Schedule – It’s actually a great way to ensure that you are organised all week. Having a work schedule on the weekends means that you have to schedule time to do you assignments and to shop/clean/meet friends during the week.
4. A change of scenery – There’s no harm in finding another place to go for a few hours. After writing assignments, reading books and staring at the wall, it’s great to have a change of pace. Focusing your energy on a complete different task helps your mind to rest and you will come back to work with a clearer mind.
5. Different people – As much as you may love your classmates and housemates, it’s always good to meet new people. You hear new stories and you get to chat about different topics. It builds your confidence and develops your conversation skills.
The downsides of a job:
1. Less free time – When you have university all week on top of working evenings or weekends, your schedule becomes very busy. This does mean that you have less opportunity to spend time with your friends or explore your new city.
2. Early shifts – If you’d rather not turn up to work doing your best impression of a zombie, then sleep is crucial. This means early nights and early mornings. Unfortunately this adds up to very few nights out, house parties or late night movie marathons.
3. Spending – Although you are earning money now, a lot of places require a work uniform or smart clothes and shoes which are never cheap. If you have to travel to work and also need some decent food to stay alive during your shift, this will soon bite into your salary.
4. Extra-Curricular Activities – With your time taken up by work little room is left for other social activities, specifically volunteering or social clubs. These all require a lot of commitment and if you’re looking to earn money you may not be able to commit to any free activities.
5. Everyone is the same – You’re not the only student hunting for a job. Every student in the university is looking for a job to help them out. This includes all the new students in your year and also any current students that are looking for a change. You need to get CVs out and get yourself seen by these companies.
There is hope! When it comes to money and experience, there are many options for students to explore. If you’d rather have the experience gained through volunteering and joining social clubs, then you can always earn money on sites like The Opinion Panel Community where you can earn money for taking surveys from home or while you’re out and about.
If you still want a paying job but don’t like the idea of losing your free time, fear not! In terms of number of assignments and lecture requirements, first year is definitely the most demanding. As your time at uni progresses, contact time is reduced leaving you with more hours of independent study. So even if you are too busy to do everything in your first year, second and third years could leave you with more free time to take up a job or extra-curricular activity; allowing you to build up your university portfolio.
During my time at uni I juggled a joint degree with a weekend job, as well as volunteering at a charity shop. My commitment to my volunteering took up many days each week, leaving me to work on assignments in the evenings. Despite the number of different things I was doing I still had time to have fun, go out and enjoy my time at university, so it is possible.
Whatever you decide to do I wish you the best of luck during your time at university.