University is a full a time job. It demands hours of studying and research as well as drawing on several skills that you have either gained through school or are newly taught to you in university. It is a stepping stone to honing skills and expertise to help get a job in your chosen field, however sometimes you need a little extra financial help during your time at university.
While I have been at university I have had a job, the same job, in the same bar. Starting in the December of 2014 until the present day as I sit and type this I have worked on average a thirty five hours week, seeing most of the same customers and seeing different staff come and go. Throughout this whole experience I have learnt five key things that I can take away from all of this (*be prepared to see the word work appear more times than an episode of The Apprentice).
1. Time Management
This point is pretty key. When working, either full time or part time, it is important that you maximise what time you have available. Lecturers often say that the rule of thumb is that your out of class studying and revision should work out to around that of a part time job. Working part time while at university means you have to be very clear with yourself and your employer what you can and cannot do reasonably with your time. The bottom line is you are at university to attend your classes and succeed in your area of study, if you find that work is demanding too much of your time you are entitled to say no. Being realistic with your time means making lists and planning days out, knowing how much time to sleep you have & waking up to alarms as well as preparing food and eating properly. Your well being is the only thing that means you will be able to juggle the two and time management is an essential skill needed in future workplaces post university.
2. The Value Of Additional Income
Working while at university often means that you are earning additional income while studying, on top of student loans this can be a God send in helping out around the house with rent or being able to buy luxuries for yourself (like actual food or going to the cinema). It is an excellent way I found of learning how to handle money and start saving for those important life changes that await post studies. I have seen and heard many students struggle from loan payment to loan payment and make horrific sacrifices with food and in turn their health. But also learning how to ‘use’ money, how to be smart with it and make it go further is an outstanding skill to have as no one can guarantee that life is going to be plain sailing. Setting up saving accounts and ISAs for ‘rainy days’ is never a bad idea (TOP TIP: putting merely £10 a week into a saving account gives you £520 at the end of the year).
3. Appreciating Days Off
I struggle to do nothing for a whole day, I can not sit and actively do nothing. Instead I tend to spend days off catching up on assignments, food shopping and doing housework. However there is little pleasures in these sorts of days, where you can sit and merely drink coffee if you decided too. Until recently I found that if I made a mistake at work and had the following day off I would carry my anxiety and worry about the mistake (always minor ones) into my day off. Using these days correctly are important, especially if your course lends itself to a lot of independent study time where studying and research is expected to be carried out for class discussions.
4. Hard Work Pays In The End
Prioritising what is important to you is important in everything in life. Like many others I would love to dedicate time to friends and family almost all the time, although I know that all the work I put in now will pay off in the future. Through my time with the company I work for I have gone from being a member of front of house to a supervisor (and occasional duty manager), this promotion is important to me as it shows the amount of work and effort I have put in. I know that if I carry on it will pay off later. The harsh reality is that everyone on your course is most likely going to graduate into the working world with the same degree as you, even in fields of work that are not overly specialised. That is still a fairly large number of people applying to those post-graduate jobs. Having a job throughout university could set you out from others applying, you have proven your time management and other transferable skills that you have gained through your employment. My work has given me the opportunity to gain several extra qualifications necessary to your requirements for work (e.g. gaining professional coffee training for working a coffee machine). These things stand out to future prospective employers.
5. It Is All A Finely Tuned Balancing Act
Work for me personally throughout university has at times been a disheartening and physically and mentally draining experience. I have suffered injury and sleeplessness at its hands, however work acts like a buffer for me mentally; between the challenges of academia and a much needed break from researching topics, as a port in the storm from household dramas such as The Invasion Of The Thousand Flies or The Week Without Electricity In Our Kitchen Or Living Room. In all these times work has been either a source of inspiration or a fountain of distraction and that is truly something to credit my long service for. It allowed me to escape bad days and not have to think about anything too complex or gave me quiet moments to ponder the new mind altering things I have learnt.
All these points aside I understand that getting a job can be difficult for a whole realm of reasons. Some people cannot dedicate the time, the resources or themselves physically throughout university to get a job. But these are the five things I personally have taken from it as part of my journey at the University of Portsmouth.
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