University is hard, and the thought of juggling a degree and a social life with a part-time job is scary. I have comprised some pros and cons to having a part-time job whilst studying, and as someone who has experienced a rather mixed array of jobs between GCSEs and my upcoming second year of uni, I hope that this list is well-rounded and that you can relate to my experiences in some way.
Money: Of course, as university students, the money really helps! We have so much to think about whether it be rent, food shopping, bills, stationary, books and having a social life (we are at uni to have some fun as well!). Therefore a part-time job certainly helps especially if , like me, your student loan disappears in milliseconds on rent.
Experience: Having a part-time job at the same time as studying is really respectable. You are not just attaining a degree (amazing enough!) but you are also gaining brilliant life skills that look great on your CV and are really transferable to the world of work. I’m a single-honours history student, so writing an essay about whether the trial of Joan of Arc was fair ins’t necessarily going to help me in confidently dealing with members of the public, which is why having that little job on the side can be so useful!
It’s a break: As I’ve said, Uni is hard, and sometimes we could really do with a little break from it! Of course, whilst I would always love for this break to be a weekend away somewhere hot with endless cocktails, my bank account aggressively disagrees, and so a part-time job can give you a little escape from the crazy whirlwind that is uni-life. A part-time job will provide you with different challenges than the ones that student-life presents, and in my experience it has thankfully helped to really push me out of my comfort zone. Also, it’s really nice to have a separate group of people to surround yourself with.
Missing out: You may find that a part-time job can take away from your uni experience. I personally was so excited when my job from home allowed me to transfer to one of their stores in Southampton, but I didn’t last longer than two months there because I realised it wasn’t making me happy. This was my one chance of being a first-year student, and within those first two months of uni I missed countless freshers events and other exciting things that lead me to feel a little down. Many of the students around me were having fun and making the most of the first-year experience, whilst a lot of my free time was being taken up by work. I remember calling my mum and crying (the only time I cried during the whole year, not over home-sickness or my degree, but over a small part-time job, get a grip right?), but this emotion came from the fact that it had taken me months of hard work and endless emails/phone calls to secure the job transfer, so I felt a bit defeated! I also felt so bad because I really wanted to maintain my own small income which I had become so used to having since I started small, casual jobs at the age of 15, and I personally felt it wasn’t my parents duty to fund my life at university as they were already doing more than enough to help me. But at the same time, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my happiness during this exciting part of my life; it’s important to remember that we sometimes have to be a little selfish and put ourselves first. If something isn’t making you happy, try and move away from it, and I was lucky enough to be in a position to do so, in comparison to many students who have no option but to work.
Lack of flexibility: Unless you succeed in getting a job at our Student’s Union, in which they actually understand that we are doing a DEGREE, many employers don’t understand that as students we have busy and ever-changing schedules. It’s hard to keep a positive report with your employer when you’re having to often change shifts because the odd lecture or meeting pops up. Also, I’ve come to realise that some degrees such as medicine are basically a full-time job , so trying to fit a part-time job around that is difficult. After I left the job I had at the start of first-year, I opted for more flexible work to earn some money, such as becoming a Humanities Student Ambassador. In this role, you give tours to prospective students and it’s great because you can choose the days you want to work. It’s also a good idea if possible to work during the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays where we have much more free time. I try really hard to do this and save up the money I earn for when i’m back at uni.
Degree: My mum likes to give me a little reality check every now and then, ‘no matter what, always remember what you have actually gone to university for’, to which I swiftly respond ‘I know I know, the whole degree thing!’. Your employer might want you to work extra hours, which seems great at first. However, when the hours get more intense and you struggle to make it to lectures or do the necessary reading, you might need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You’re at university for a degree.
Sorry to end on that stern note, but it’s worth remembering. Overall, I believe having a part-time job as a student and earning your own money is a great thing. It will give you skills and experiences that your studies can’t, but keep in mind that your health and happiness should come first, as juggling such a heavy workload can take its toll.