If you’ve followed the advice laid out so far, then you should be on track with all your university commitments and having a great time as well. However, as you’ll find, university is expensive. Whether you like it or not, if you want the most out of your time as a student then you’ll need the finances to support the things you want to do. This doesn’t mean becoming a millionaire (though that would certainly help), but neither does it mean relentlessly stacking shelves all day. In establishing balance across your uni work, spare time and career, it is important to get right.
Let me be clear: this article isn’t about your ultimate career goals, more it’s about getting a part-time job to support yourself whilst at university. The hard truth is, student loans alone simply don’t cover it. They’re enough for the bare essentials, but unless you want to spend the next three years of your life laying in bed, eating pot noodles and watching Family Guy reruns, I’d suggest you sort yourself out a job as soon as possible.
I say part-time work because, obviously, you’re at university, and you don’t want to work so much that it interferes with your studies. Neither do you want to work so little that you can’t afford to do the things you want to do. In this final article I’m going to run you through the main tips for getting the perfect sort of job during your studies, whilst still maintaining balance in your life.
Types of Work
Many people will suggest you get a steady part time job in something like retail, maybe in a supermarket or a coffee shop. Now, I’m not too fond of this idea: unless you’re studying a subject in something like customer service, then a retail job will be pretty much useless. Sure, it will get you money, but why not use the skills that you have? For example, if you’re studying journalism, try and get a writing job or something in marketing like sales. It doesn’t have to be the exact line of work you want to do overall, but if you choose something at least loosely related to your subject, it will help you out in the long run.
You shouldn’t look at part-time work as something purely for money, though that’s obviously a large part of it. If you do that then it will demotivate you, and your work will seem dull and pointless. Choose something that will help you gain valuable skills in the industry you want to get into. It’s all a matter of perspective.
This keeps coming up, but time is genuinely a valuable thing, especially when you’re at uni trying to balance a degree with hardcore partying and a part-time job. As I said, do not work full time – it will destroy you. You’ll have no time for fun, let alone for uni work.
If you’re going for a more conventional job, I’d recommend a maximum of 20 hours a week. It may seem impossible, but try and get a job that has flexible working hours as well. It can be helpful to think outside the box: don’t just apply to every job that gives you a wage, look at ways you can use your skills to earn money. For example, I get paid to write for websites. This is something I can do whenever I want, so I’ve got plenty of free time and an income. Jobs like sales or marketing are good, although many people aren’t fond of commission work, the hours are very flexible and, if you put the work in, there are big rewards to be had.
Working for Yourself
Working for yourself is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and you don’t have to limit yourself just because you’re a full-time student. Again, take advantage of the skills you are gaining from your course/career path and apply them into something which you can monetize. Personally, I do freelance photography. This isn’t something that I applied for through a job application, it’s something I worked towards by gaining experience and speaking to the right people. Of cause, this is the sort of work that takes time to actually monetize. I’d recommend you get a stable part-time job whilst you work towards earning your own living, so you can finance yourself whilst you pursue this and not get disheartened. Your attempts may seem futile to begin with, but the rewards of working for yourself are well worth the struggle.
Small businesses are always good as well. You may think that because you’re a student this isn’t possible, but you shouldn’t limit yourself. The belief that you can’t do it, is the only thing stopping you from actually doing it. Now, you don’t need to be the next Richard Branson, but a small eBay shop or independent clothing brand will give you a nice income as well as some great work/life experience.
The main points to take from this is to be resourceful and think outside the box when figuring out a source of income whilst at university. Use the skills you have, and get a job that will develop these skills. Then, not only will you have an income, but you’ll have some experience in the industry you want to work in when you finish university.
Now, if you’ve made it this far, then you should be on track for having the perfect university experience. (Either that or you’re just reading articles and procrastinating.) Either way, if you take in these tips, and apply them to your time in education, then I guarantee things will work out. In case you need any credibility, then keep in mind that these articles were written by someone who had to re-sit their first year, but is now on track to a great career. Don’t lose hope, keep your priorities in check, and you’ll have a great time.
By Thomas Anderson