To job or not to job – that is the question. There are a gazillion reasons why getting a student job is a good idea. In this article Joshua tells us his take on the popular contemplation.
Students are always complaining about that notorious student budget. While some continue to sit back and post memes on Facebook about how tough the end of the month is, many others rightly get up, clean the plate that’s been sitting in their room since last Monday and go out in search of a job. However, students often don’t even know where to begin looking, and after only one brief Google search will just upload another damn meme.
As a student who has held tutoring, writing and coaching jobs since coming to university, I recently gave several unemployed students the opportunity to ask me about employment and whether it’s worth it.
Here are the top five most common questions I got asked, and this is how I would answer them.
Can’t I just postpone getting a student job until after I’ve graduated?
Most certainly not. Employers are often eager to hire students as they can be paid less due to their inexperience. Positions such as coaching, tutoring, and acting don’t require a university degree. Fine-tune the skills you have that don’t need a lecturer’s guidance and put them to work for an employer.
Is it worth getting a student job?
Many students who manage to get through a month without working, either due to exceptional budgeting or help from mom and dad, asked if they should get a job anyway. The answer is a resounding yes.
Getting a job not only gets you an income to help in the tougher months, but it teaches you about the working world – which is remarkably different to the world of the student. Having strict working hours teaches you about commitment and punctuality; deadlines develop your ability to work under pressure, and having a job while you’re a student eases you into the working life rather than being thrown into it once you graduate.
But perhaps most importantly, earning your own money gives you some real independence. You may no longer live under your parents’ roof or have to ask for permission when you want to go out. But until you are spending your own money, you are still dependent on them. There is no greater sense of self-achievement than when you manage to buy your own plane ticket or go away on a weekend holiday with your own money.
What student job should I get?
This is up for debate, but I would strongly argue applying for a job that you could consider as a stepping-stone to your long-term career. Studying to be a teacher? Quit your job at Pet World and apply to be a sports coach at the local high school so you can learn to deal with children and build a relationship with the school. Want to be a director? Don’t apply for that cool job at the aquarium, but rather get a job on a film set. Jobs such as waiting and bartending might be a good way to earn some extra money, but rather go for a position that will provide invaluable experience for your future career.
Should I agree to work for free?
First prize would be to get a pay cheque at the end of each month, but sometimes, sacrificing this immediate reward can be beneficial in the long run. Experience is getting more and more valuable these days. Degrees can only get you so far while superior experience can give you an edge over your competitors.
However, in order to gain this experience, you may have to sacrifice the initial salary. Once you have built up a decent amount of hours, apply for a paying job – if one isn’t offered to you anyway. Working for free for a non-profit organisation (NGO) or charity can also prove beneficial as it helps your CV to stand out for future job applications.
What if I don’t like the job I get?
Then quit. I have seen countless students study for (what they believe will be) their dream job, only to realise they aren’t cut out for that particular industry. Getting a job while you’re still a student – and therefore still be subsidised by your parents – is the perfect opportunity to see if the industry you’re studying for is everything you believe it to be. If it turns out to be what you wanted, then great. But you could as easily discover that you are studying for a job you may never come to like. If this is the case, quit the job and make the necessary adjustments to your studies. Rather do it now than graduate with a degree that can only get you a job you will come to hate.
Just because you’re studying, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else you can be doing for your future career. Experience is becoming increasingly more important for employers, the kind of experience a degree does not guarantee. Building up vital experience while studying means you are more attractive to future employers.