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Scrounging Bleedin' Student Layabouts...
Jobs whilst you are a student
Member Name: a-true-ben
Jobs whilst you are a student
Date: 05/03/02, updated on 05/03/02 (310 review reads)
Advantages: Can reduce debt and look good on your C.V.
Disadvantages: Detract from studies and take up leisure time, don't pay that well
So what takes priority – money or experience? Well, obviously it depends on your circumstances (how high is that overdraft?). Personally I’d like to go into journalism, but many placements are unpaid. The alternative tends to be taking a job for money, but temporary student jobs often seem pretty poor ones. In an ideal world, perhaps you can compromise – find an interesting and paid job (even if it is poor pay).
A few years ago (at school), I did a brief placement in a civilian MoD office. It was unpaid, but very informative – giving me my first experience of an office environment. Unfortunately my chances to work as part of a team were limited (being changed between offices didn’t help), but I still gained valuable experience with many aspects of administration: word processing, photocopying, filing, faxing and making telephone calls.
Last year, at university, I was in need of more money, so I spent my vacations doing part-time work at the local supermarket. At first, I thought my checkout position would just mean £3.90 an hour and the chance to sit down, but to my surprise even here I learned much more: getting used to working life, being part of a team, handling money, customer relations.
It seems many students naturally assume there’s a conflict between working for money and f
or C.V. points. What I’ve learned is that when given a bit of thought, any job should contribute to your C.V. and could provide much more than just some holiday cash. At the end of the day though, I’d rather do something I enjoy and boost my C.V. – that’s far more important long-term than a bit more debt now. I think it’s best to concentrate on your long-term prospects – and that means unpaid placements if necessary.
At the moment I’ve been looking for opportunities to write elsewhere. The internet’s been a good place to begin – not only have I found out about career opportunities online, but I’ve had work printed on several sites, and even earned a bit of pocket money from Dooyoo. At the moment, I’m looking to take a step up (which often means less pay!) Last term, as some of you may know, I had a brief article printed in a national magazine (Internet Advisor) and over Easter I intend to contact several local newspapers about the chances of an unpaid summer job.
Personally, however, I haven’t found my student jobs all that valuable. I’m not denying that they can be, and I’d accept that perhaps I should’ve tried to make better use of my time. On the other hand, I’d prefer to have some time off in my vacations (apart from catching up with old friends, and doing college work). Sure it leaves you worse off, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a decent job when I graduate, so I don’t mind using my loan now. Student life’s supposed to be about having fun, not worrying about money (I’ve written about ‘thrift tips for students’ elsewhere) so when it comes to my holidays I’ll do what I want – and that may mean unpaid work or just relaxing, rather than some of the unfulfilling ‘dead-end’ jobs that seem to be the only prospect for students where I live.
I recognise that perhaps this isn’t an
option for everyone – maybe some people need the money. I’m not well off by any means (I get the maximum loan – which helps). There are plenty of opportunities to save and make money though, without a regular job. I’m just over half way through my course, and I’ve made around £1300 online (through Dooyoo, Ciao, MyPoints, MyVoice, VisitorFriendly, etc). To tell the truth, many of these don’t actually pay well for your time, but I find them more enjoyable than a ‘proper job’ and, more importantly, flexible. I also take advantage of other chances for earning on the side – students can often find opportunities as ‘guinea pigs’ – one of my flatmates is currently doing a malaria vaccine trial for which he’ll get around £1200. I wouldn’t be happy about doing that (nor would my parents) but I have taken part in other experiments, such as on voting behaviour, for which you can be paid up to £10 for 1-2 hour’s ‘work’.
(Hopefully) I’ve got a long career ahead of me. For now, student jobs aren’t for me.
**This opinion was based on a shorter article written for the Oxford University careers magazine, Compass** (I feel just like x_elff_x)