While it’s clear that your university experience should primarily be about your academic studies, there are few more useful ways to improve your time than with a part time job. While some find work in the career that they hope to pursue after university, for most a part time job means a pub, supermarket, coffee shop, or high street store. However, this doesn’t mean that these jobs can’t prove very valuable.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, a part time job demonstrates your ability to manage your time. If you’re a science student with a packed timetable, this means you’ve obviously been able to juggle all those hours and your work commitments at the same time. Perhaps even more so for arts and humanities students – though there are usually far fewer contact hours for these subjects, there is typically an enormous amount of reading and work to be done in your own time – particularly in third year when the dissertation rolls around. The ability to deal with this, a commitment to a job, and often a society or sports team on top, will prove invaluable in later life, and will really impress future employers.
It is probably true that for most university students, one of the primary reasons for coming to university is to improve their career prospects. However, it is also sometimes true that university can pull you away from the ‘real world’ to an extent. For some, a move straight from school to university, with no breaks and no job, means that the move from student to young professional can be extremely difficult. To enter into a new job means learning all the skills and requirements of the role, so it is definitely an advantage to already know and understand certain aspects of the workplace – for instance how to maintain a professional image and manner, customer service, speaking to the public, as well as some of your rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
This brings us onto the next good reason why a part time job is a great idea at university: transferable skills. It’s a phrase that comes up a lot when looking at a career after university, but it is sometimes hard to know what it really means. You may think that working in a pub has little bearing on your career in business development – but dealing with an unhappy and possibly irate customer in the pub will make you more able to deal with a stressed client in your graduate role. Transferable skills and confidence in the work place take time to develop – and there is no better time than at university.
Another aspect of university that is perhaps mentioned a lot, but isn’t immediately clear as to why it’s important, is the social aspect. At university you make lifelong friends and people who will support you in every aspect of your life. Having a group of work friends only adds to this, and they are likely to come from a different set of backgrounds to your university colleagues. To broaden your horizons and network in such a way is not only enjoyable, but useful throughout your life.
Finally – a point that shouldn’t be underestimated – money! Having a part time job obviously earns you money. Money is clearly very important – and while there are loans and support systems in place at university, it’s no bad thing to have a little cash of your own. Whether it goes on socialising, sports equipment, a holiday, or simply spending a bit more on the food shop, it gives you independence and the ability to deal with your own finances; something that you can’t live without.
To sum up – having a part time job at university is a fantastic idea because it will teach you a lot, impress employers, give you independence, and a whole new set of friends. It’s worth it!
‘I’ve just graduated from the University of Kent with a 2:1 in History. I’m going on to study for a Masters in Journalism also with Kent, starting in September. I took a bit of a circuitous route to university, via a year travelling and an attempt at a career as a chef, but I’m now happily looking forward to pursuing a career in journalism.’