Part Time Jobs and College – A Balancing Act

Claire Crowley discusses the challenges and rewards of a part time job during college

Part time jobs, there is a lot to be said about them. They can be extremely helpful: providing an extra bit of money for that textbook/ ball gown/pair of shoes/ taxi home that is badly needed. But part time jobs can also have a serious impact on your academic studies and your social life.

The Good:

  • Part time jobs are like gold-dust. You know you are lucky to have one. Even after the worst days of work, remind yourself that there are so many students who would love to be in your position. When you have a part time job, you try your hardest not to lose it, because you know that it could be months again before you find yourself employed.
  • When you have a part time job, you are pushed into the grown up, working world. You can’t be late for your job, or your wages will be docked, giving your manager or supervisor will put you on the fast track to losing your job and going in hungover or calling in sick on a regular basis will come back to haunt you in the long run. You are forced to be responsible, which for some students, is a wake-up call.
  • You get paid. This is the highlight of working, that pay cheque that comes through monthly, bi-monthly or weekly. Although that joy can quickly descend into sorrow when you realise that you’re being taxed too much, you didn’t get paid over-time for that Sunday you worked, or you’re sure you are short at least €50. But, usually, you are delighted when you realise that your bank balance has increased, meaning you can live again.

The Bad:

  • Employers can take advantage of students, knowing how desperate they are for work. Therefore, students are given the worst hours. Four hour contracts exist, meaning – you guessed it – you get four hours a week of work. On minimum wage, that means €34.60 is earned, which, as any student will know, can be spent in a flash, on essentials like phone credit, a phone/laptop charger or a birthday present for a friend.
  • Alternatively, students can be given all the hours available, which is fantastic for their bank balance, but awful for students trying to balance all aspects of their lives: their sleep schedule, academic commitments and extra-curricular activities. Students will try their best to keep on top of everything, but usually some part of their life will suffer due to being overworked, and usually this is college work. Students will skip lectures or put off assignments until the last minute, often leaving these assignments rushed, or pushed off until a week or two after the original due date, which can have a negative impact on their end of year grade.

 

 

The Ugly:

  • Retail is the part time job that hires the majority of students nowadays. Retail, whether it is working in a clothes shop, shoe shop or a local convenience store is fast-paced and always busy. Especially during busy periods such as Christmas and the sales. Christmas, especially, is always hectic, with many people working in retail, even if they are part time, working several days in a row, only to get one day off (Christmas Day), before having to go back in and work on St. Stephen’s Day. It is not the ideal way to spend the Christmas holidays.
  • Some students find part time work in bars and pubs, a messy job, with students having to start work when the majority of other people are thinking about going to bed. This can have an impact on students trying to concentrate in their lectures the following morning, and have a negative impact overall on their college work. It can also leave students with a messy sleeping cycle; even if they have a night off, they still can’t fall asleep until sometime after 4am.
  • In a few places of work, some students will be asked to come into work during a time when they have college. Many students will avail of this, thinking of the extra money, but if employers make a habit of this, the student will end up losing out in college, and will only be trying to catch up on a full module at the last minute.

So, there you have it, the good, bad and the ugly aspects of part-time work. Have you experienced any of the above?

 

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