Working Whilst Studying: Is It Maintainable?
Living the student life isn’t as laid back and easy as it seems. I am a student at Nottingham Trent University and I have often experienced stress throughout my time at university.
It is very common that a student will experience problems related to stress which link to wider issues of mental health, financial stability, and academic issues.
Although issues relating to mental health and academic problems are probably more of a concern for a student’s health and well-being, I am going to focus on the monetary aspect of student life.
Many students will undoubtedly say that one one of the best feelings they will have is when they wake up in the morning to find the government has transferred a substantial amount of money into their bank account.
For me personally, applying for a student maintenance loan was one of the best decisions I’ve made throughout my time at university.
However, it has become apparent to me, that if someone is not careful with their money, they might find themselves in a difficult situation very quickly – not something you want when you’re not earning a proper salary.
I always thought the idea of having a job, whilst being at university, was not practical because it would clash with my studies. However, my thinking on this has changed. I have realised that being a student with expensive taste makes it increasingly hard to budget on a daily basis.
I came to the realisation that this lifestyle was not going to be maintainable for the foreseeable future, and that if it was going be workable, I’d have to find another source of income that wasn’t predominantly government based.
Getting a job
One day I was casually walking towards my university when I was approached by two men with clipboards. They simply asked me “do you want a job? They explained to me that it was a fundraising position, that didn’t require any previous experience, and only required 2 days of training, paid at an hourly rate.
I took a couple of seconds to think to myself that although this was quite random, my financial situation meant that this was something I should probably do. Therefore, I signed up to the job and continued with my day like normal. I was quickly convinced of that this would be a great thing for me to do.
3 weeks later, I received a call from the company and they scheduled an interview with me. I was motivated by the fact that I might be earning a salary, whilst studying, and was very enthusiastic during the interview.
All went well and they scheduled me for my 2 day training. I learnt all about how to sell a product on a stranger’s doorstep, and the 6 steps you need for it to be done in a professional manner.
My friends and family kept telling me that this would be mind-numbing and tiresome work. But at the time I thought I would see how it would go.
After two weeks of having impolite and discourteous strangers telling me “not interested”, or “go away”, or sometimes worse, I decided it would be in my best interests to leave the position.
I felt that it was proving to be a challenge to balance out my work with my studies and eventually it became too much to manage. Whilst all my friends were working hard at the library, studying for their exams, I was working in the middle of a 7-hour shift.
This experience was very valuable and while working in tandem with studying can be done, it needs to be something that fits around your studies.
At university, the priority of any student should be working hard getting a degree, and if some paid work can fit in between studying then it can certainly work out well.
In my case, I probably took on a bit too much. However, the experience whilst not very enjoyable, was one that made me appreciate how tough a full working day can be. I believe this will stand me in good stead when I do go into full-time employment.
Find casual work
Common casual work at universities includes leafleting, promoting club nights and working hospitality events. Such positions will probably be advertised on sites like Indeed and Gumtree, and by word-or-mouth, so consider printing your CVs and taking them around town.
Sign up to agencies
Event/ hospitality agencies exist to find a large pool of staff for events. These could be sporting matches, concerts or corporate events. These are great for students as you can inform them when you are available and never have to feel obliged to accept a shift.
Take on seasonal work
If you will remain in your University city over summer and Christmas, finding a seasonal job is a good idea.
An increase of seasonal jobs will exist in the summer, such as tour guides, English language school assistants, event staff.
At Christmas, shopping centres and Royal Mail offices will take on more staff to cope with the increase in purchases.
Contact the university careers department
Your university will have a careers department and website which advertises positions at the university and in your Uni town. This is a useful resource to find positions.
Find a job that allows you to work evenings/ weekends
This could include working in a pub/ bar, restaurant or cafe.