Although I am currently on my placement year, I had a part-time job during my first and second year of University. In my first year I was signed up to a hospitality recruitment agency that would ring me up when there was catering or hospitality work within my local area. This would include breakfasts, bar work or silver service.
In general I was called to work at my local entertainment venue a couple of evenings a week. You had to work a minimum of three hours, so I would earn around £20 per shift. The venue was within walking distance, my shifts were flexible and I would be home by 10.30pm. However, I would often have to chase my recruiting manager for work meaning that the work was unreliable.
Being a student, I was pretty strapped for cash and my overdraft was capped too. My student loan barely covered my rent so I needed extra money for food, transport and to fund my social life. Whilst my parents would help out when they could, I hated being dependent on them which is why I got another job in retail during my second year. I envied everyone who could afford to live without a job and who had a better social life than me.
Now I wouldn’t say I struggled with my work load in second year, but I often had a problem trying to fit my deadlines around my work shifts. Although I was only contracted for four hours on a weekend, I would often have to work straight after my lectures because we were so short staffed meaning I would miss a lot of group meetings and tutorial sessions with my lecturers.
Finding the Balance
Work did not have a detrimental impact on my University projects, but it did mean that I would have to seriously catch up in the library. It also meant trying to organise group meetings over Facebook, which can be unreliable as not everyone sees their notifications.
Who wants to come home from work at 7pm, cook dinner and then have to head into the library to bang out an essay until the early hours because you’re working both days on the weekend? Well I had to and I was drained because of it.
Not only that, but I had to work the Christmas period up until Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. I couldn’t go home because work needed me in the store. Working Easter Sunday was the absolute worst. The majority of shops were shut and it was raining, meaning everyone was indoors; we barely took £200 that day. It’s safe to say I was rather annoyed and lonely when I got home as all my housemates had gone back to their home towns.
There were several times when I had to put my foot down. I didn’t want to stay in Bournemouth over Christmas to work Boxing Day as I worked Christmas Eve, so I told them I wouldn’t be back until the 4th of January. Naturally my line manager kicked up a fuss, but it wasn’t my fault that they wouldn’t hire anyone new, and I wanted to see my family and friends back home. I explained to him how much I had worked and I very nearly always said yes to the shifts I was offered.
Positive or Negative?
Having a part-time job does help you become more organised and balance workloads, which looks great on your CV. You also have extra money to spend, which is always a positive! Yet if you struggle with your work load already or you’re a buzzing socialite then I suggest you weigh up what is more important to you.
If you feel you are working too much then mention it to your manager. Put your foot down if you are working way more than your contract hours, and don’t feel you always have to say yes to every shift!
Have you held down a job alongside your studies? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!