So we’ve all been there at some point – we are students, after all. The loan has dried up (or, like me, it didn’t cover your accommodation anyway) and it is a long wait until the next one. But booze needs to be bought and, to a lesser extent, so does food. You need money, but where from? The national bank of mum and dad? Eventually, that will close for the weekend and you are left penniless and desperate… What is the answer? A job.
The main concern you have at this point is actually getting a job, not about how you will have time for university work whilst earning money. This is something you need to consider. A job is not only hard work, but turns a typical, lazy, drinking/sleeping lifestyle into a professional circus act.
First there is the juggling act: finding time to work the hours needed, yet having to attend at least SOME lectures and seminars. You have to be careful here when signing a job contract – they usually have a set number of hours per week which you are contracted to work, ranging from three or four all the way up to twenty or more. Obviously, the higher the need for money, the more hours you will need to work, but don’t forget that, come exam time, it would be nice to have less hours working and more hours revising (or facebooking, as tends to be the standard revision method).
Then there is the tightrope walk you face: trying to balance a job, university work, friendships and maybe even a relationship. The year is a long rope to traverse, with only the smallest of podiums in the middle for a christmas ‘break’.
Things can get very stressful. I, for one, have had to work within an hour of a lecture, causing me to rush home to get ready and head out again. I then had to rush back home after to get changed to go out for a friend’s birthday, and then was at work the next day so unable to celebrate in the manner known best to students: alcohol consumption.
All this rushing around isn’t easy either, so I’ll continue my nice little circus metaphor by likening it to a unicycle – you may be fine speeding around at first, enjoying the new challenge, but eventually you tire and need a rest, and if you aren’t careful you can crash.
Of course, when there is a university deadline coming up you then spend most of your time working in one sense or another, with no time to see those important to you. This past month I have barely heard from some friends, hearing barely a sentence from one close mate, or missing out on important news in the life of another. Being in the same lectures only partially alleviates the pressure to have some form of social life.
There are upsides to having a job though – you make new friends amongst your colleagues, as well as actually being able to afford to go out with your friends on the rare days off. It is also good preparation for the 40+ hour weeks of the working world many of us will eventually have to join (except med students, who probably already do that much).
Some of you may have jobs, and are even busier than myself, yet still cope better, in which case congratulations. But I, for one, have struggled to keep myself up on the trapeeze rather than falling off and losing everything at once. Make sure you are aware of the extra stress a job adds to your life if you are considering getting one soon. By all means go for it, but don’t be shocked when you see friends a bit less, and get stressed from it all.