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Should You Get a Part-Time Job at University? (Insight)

EmployabilityStudent JobsUniversity

It's a tough question, and with such an inconsistent loan system in this country, it's difficult to know whether getting a part-time job is worth the sacrifice of social and study (and sleep) time. Thankfully, Laura Ash runs through her experiences in order to help you decide...

We've all heard that old chestnut about how having a part-time job at uni shows potential employers that you are a well-rounded student: organised, flexible and outwardly motivated. But that shouldn't be the reason that you go out and find yourself a part-time job. Having work experience on your CV is definitely a notable attribute but so are many other things such as sports club participation, volunteering and positions on university committees. So you shouldn't ever feel like if you don't have a job, you're missing out. Having said that, a job at university was one of the best things that I did. If you don't have a job and you're deciding whether or not you need one, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Use this short guide to work out whether you truly need a part-time job at university or not.

1. How much do you need the money?

It seems like a silly question to ask a student; you're living off the government, or your parents, and spending money like the vodka doubles you're chugging 3 times a week. So, ask yourself: are your habits sustainable? No doubt there will be times during your university tenure when you are less than well-off, but you may not need a part-time job (yet) if it's going to mean that you sacrifice other parts of your university experience…

2. Can you spare the time?

If you have commitments elsewhere, then perhaps a part time job isn't right for you now. If you're deciding between having a part time job and your sports club, spending time with your friends (think about the FOMO!) or even just taking a little break from university work to binge on Netflix, then decide whether you want to exchange those activities for serving often disgruntled customers, sweeping grimy floors and accidentally pouring ketchup on your uniform when you take dirty plates to the kitchen.

3. Will you enjoy it?

It's hard to know if you're going to enjoy your job before you even start, of course. But if your motives for getting a job are wrong, then obviously you won't enjoy what you're doing. If you're not enjoying it, you may not be committed to the company and that might just be a waste of both your and your employer's time.

My Experience...

I had a job for my entire time at university and though many times I did question why I even bothered to get a job in the first place, after 4 years, it was one of the best things I did. My work experience went like this:
  • I really improved my social life.
  • I gained more employable skills, such as customer service, organisation, management and administration.
  • It gave my mind a break from working incessantly on university work.
  • It gave me more money to support myself for rent, through the summer and post-university.
However, around exam time I had trouble juggling my revision and work commitments (especially when I was working 3 times a week). Also, depending on the job that I had, the novelty wore off quite quickly and I found myself hating going to work on a Saturday morning, especially because I had stayed sober at the 21st birthday party the night before in order to be professional the next day. Despite this, I would highly recommend getting a job at university for all the added benefits, not just the money that you earn. But don't just take my word for it, ask yourself whether it's right for you.

What was your experience? Would you recommend a part-time job during university? Let us know via Twitter.

laura ash grb author

Laura Ash is a recent English and Spanish graduate from the University of Southampton. She has published for Barefoot Vegan magazine, The Costa Rica News and the Wessex Scene as well as on her blog; Plane Ride Stitches. She won the Year Abroad Blogging Scholarship in 2015-16 for her university and wrote about her experiences as a cricket coach in Argentina.

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