Part-time jobs: Money-maker or exam de-railer?

Bartender job

In first and second year, I must admit that I played a particularly dangerous game with my finances, skirting the boundaries of my overdraft limit, trying to survive on the money I had accumulated over summer.

The constant worry of waking up on a Thursday or Saturday morning and wondering what the damage was from the night before is something most students can sympathise with. Despite not going out regularly, I still found myself worrying as to how to make ends meet.

With third year being easily the most important year of my life, the constant fretting I found myself doing was simply just not feasible. Essays, presentations, and a 10,000-word dissertation, coupled with money worries, is enough to make even the most well-rounded of students crack at least once.

So, for me, having a part-time job, of three nights a week and around 12 hours’ total, is more than worth not having to worry about money. Knowing I have a stable income for the forthcoming year is so liberating.

Of course, it is not all rainbows and butterflies; it is another sacrifice made in the pursuit of academic excellence. Having this job does take three nights a week, often either Friday or Saturday night, so trips to Ocean or house parties are often lost.

Personal relationships fall by the wayside for a lot of people in third year anyway, and having a job only makes this even harder. You do need a thick skin to be able to manage it, I must admit.

“Knowing you do not have an evening to waste”

What having a job helps you to develop are your time-management skills, which are such a great skill to have when in third year. Knowing you do not have an evening to waste watching How I Met Your Mother on repeat on Netflix, or having house film nights with a couple of beers, focuses you on making time for both your friends and for study.

“My grades have actually gone up”

My grades have not suffered as a result of having a job; in fact, since the start of third year, when I was successfully employed in Nottingham, my grades have actually gone up, across a particular grade boundary, no less.

Working through January exams was less of an issue for me, in that I only had one exam, being a Humanities student where my dissertation accounts for a third of my third year credits.

For other subjects who are more exam heavy, such as Maths with their exam weighted in the region of 80%, I daresay working during exams is not as manageable. However, I don’t believe that BSc students are necessarily unable to handle having a job as well; the same time-management skills are applicable for all subject areas.

Doing bar work, as I do, is something that actually can be beneficial in giving you three or four hours break from the stresses of wider university life. Between degree study, being a member of committee for a particular media outlet and trying to keep up with friendships, it can often feel like I have too much to do, and have no idea where to start.

“Learn to manage your money”

What working does is calm you down and lends you some perspective. It allows your subconscious to work on those issues, so you can start the next day with a naturally clearer idea of what needs to be done and when.

Fundamentally, however, what having a part-time job allows you to do even further is learn to manage your money, without the help of parents, something I do take a lot of pride in.

Managing money is a skill not many people hone, and I am by no means the best at spending frugally. Having money now does help you to develop a greater sense of what is essential and what are luxuries, as student life does normally.

“I can go for a dip in the big O and not feel too bad”

Not having to worry about where the next pay-check is coming from is a genuinely wonderful feeling for me, and means, when I am free on a Friday night, I can go for a dip in the big O and not feel too bad about having one too many VKs in a Baywatch-fuelled haze.

Having money has also meant I can pay for a holiday to New York City at the end of third year, and if that’s not a powerful motivator to do well then I don’t know what is.

Connor Higgs

Image courtesy of ‘@wewon31‘ via Flickr. License here.

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