Hints and tips - Finding a part time job at the university
You are undoubtedly familiar with headline stories in the press and on TV about fees, student debt and even student poverty. According to government oracles the average amount students owe when they graduate is around £7,000. Just to frighten you the daily press (renowned of course for its accuracy) estimate current graduate debt as being as large as £12,000. Are you still reading? I hope so because as soon as the horror story has ended, I hope to show you the pros and con of a rosier alternative to debt or in fact no debt at all!
Back to the horror story……. A government minister was quoted during the summer break saying that for some, graduation debt of around £20,000 should not be considered unreasonable.
However the "pint" glass half-full side of the story is that in general graduates earn far more than their contemporaries who do not have degrees.
How much more? We want positive statistics I hear you cry. Well up to 25% more.
If you are a female graduate (like me) then your earning will be almost 40% higher than those female friends of yours who entered the labour market after passing A' levels alone. This means that female to male pay is closer to equality if you are a graduate.
To help you avoid becoming one of these frightening statistics and to prove the government's rather scary prophecy wrong, all you may need to do is get a part time job. Simple but effective, I promise.
Whilst a student at Exeter University I worked in a wine bar, three or four shifts a week as a waitress, which for me quite simply translated into my life starting that little bit quicker on graduation.
It was far more within my grasp to move up to London and really start my career, whereas with £15,000 worth of debt the London lifestyle and expense would seem a distant dream! But enough of me, what would the pros and cons of getting a job be for you, the average student? (Oh forgot to mention I also happened to work with Will Young whilst waitressing in Exeter, so you never know you might even get to rub shoulders with new British talent as I did! Or if you work hard enough you could become that celebrity!)
Firstly extra cash to spend on yourself or keeping your local pub/club afloat with the money you alone plough in to it. On a more serious note you will get experience of handling and making your own money.
It is not only money that you must be able to manage effectively, but something money can not buy (no not love). Time - If you are balancing part time work with your studies and your social life you become an expert in time management and to everyone's surprise you may even find the busier you are the more you get done. There is precious little time for rearranging pencils on your desk into intricate designs, to avoid writing that coursework essay, you just have to get your head down and get on with it.
It can be hard to meet people when at university or at least a different crowd of people, if you do not want to join a zillion societies. Certain jobs such as bar work, waitressing or working on a shop floor, are full of students so you will meet lots of new people, making new friends which can be refreshing when university becomes a bit stale and suffocating.
Ideally you should do some work related to your degree, however it is not always easy to get interesting paid work. But remember any paid work teaches you important skills and gains you a reference (hopefully!). When you leave Uni. and start looking for a job, a year or so of a part time job will look a lot more impressive than three years of bumming around and getting drunk.
There are downsides of course and while I do not believe they outweigh the advantages, to make things fair I had better tell you about them, but I hope you will not list these off to justify why six nights out drinking a week is the only option.
If you are likely to want to go home quite a lot throughout term time then it can be difficult to find a job that is flexible and lets you do this. It is definitely worth discussing this with your employer before you start, so you know just what you are letting yourself in for.
Try to keep in mind the initial purpose of university (to get an academic qualification, a degree remember!), so do not at any cost threaten this. Oxford University does not allow its students to work any more than 6 hours per week in term time. Other universities insist or strongly recommend that students work no more than 16 hours a week as even 16 hours with the minimum wage is £65 a week.
If you are in your final year or have exams coming up, it is not a good idea to work, but if you do have to, try to limit yourself to a few hours. There is no point going to university for three years only to fail because you were working too hard at your job rather than studying.
Academic worries aside, which for many is ironically the last thing on many students mind, what about missing out?
What about all those opportunities you have at university: Societies, campaigning, clubbing, writing for student newspapers, This Morning, Watercolor Challenge and then Countdown. (The staple tele visual diet for any real student)! Yet it is possible to strike a healthy balance between keeping a healthy social life, staying afloat financially and enjoying academic success. It may sound like a gargantuan task but it really is within your grasp.
You are not going to be qualified for any really well paid jobs until you graduate. As a student you are likely to earn the minimum wage or if you are lucky a bit more. Sometimes you may question whether it is really worth all those hours slaving away for the pathetic pittance you get. It is very irritating to work in a pub or restaurant and realize that one drink costs you an hour of your time in work. But you also must remember the time that you spend working you are not spending those precious pennies, so a part time job keeps you from blowing all your money on random whims.
My advice (to lean on a cliché, used once or twice before) work hard and play hard academically, economically and socially. Strike that perfect balance, safe in the knowledge that in years to come you will, unfortunately, be totally unable to join your contemporaries as they rant and whinge about their debt, which is just one very long hangover.