For some students, a part-time job is a necessity. For others, it’s a choice. There are two big misapprehensions about working part-time while studying: that it’s something you do only if you need the money, and that it’ll reduce your chances of graduating with a 2:1 or a First.
In fact, the benefits of working while studying extend far beyond the financial, and while concentrating your efforts on your studies is no bad thing, it’s simply not true that a part-time job will stop you from excelling academically. Just look at the figures – more Firsts are being awarded than ever before, despite the number of students in part-time jobs rising.
The retail and hospitality sectors have always been a popular choice for students seeking a part-time job, as these establishments typically offer flexible hours and opportunities for weekend work. The big chains will usually provide full training, so are unlikely to turn down candidates solely on the basis of a sparse CV. Costa, for instance, reassures school leavers that it is “dedicated to developing people” and will teach trainees any new skills they might require.
Here are the three reasons why taking a part-time job is something you should at least consider.
Maybe you’re not in dire straits financially, but chances are you could use a little more money – we all could! A job in a shop or restaurant run by one of the big chains is unlikely to net you much more than the national living wage, but that’s the case with the majority of student part-time jobs. Besides, it’s not just a salary you’ll be taking away.
Money isn’t just money – it’s peace of mind, for one thing. Far from negatively affecting your academic performance, a part-time job and the money it brings could be said to indirectly boost your chances of good grades by giving you (or at least bringing you closer to) financial security.
When you’re anxious and stressed, it’s more difficult to concentrate. Money worries can prey on your mind, distracting you from your work. Obviously, being overwrought from taking on an overly burdensome part-time job can have the same effect; if you have the choice, you should of course try to strike the right balance.
Earning a wage is also a good old-fashioned builder of character. Living off a student loan or allowance teaches you to manage your money, but the payment you receive from an employer is evidence of your own hard graft, and gives you the added satisfaction of reaping the fruits of your labours.
Lack of work experience is a common cause of concern for those fresh out of university. So many graduates enter the world of work with CVs containing only qualifications: certificates, degrees, completed courses.
Even if you’re not intending to go into the retail or catering industries after you graduate, having a part-time job on your CV tells potential employers that you’ve worked as part of a team, dealt with customers face-to-face, and been able to keep your head in a busy and sometimes hectic environment. This is real-world experience that most students simply won’t get from their degree course.
You never know who you’ll meet in a shop or bar. Interaction with customers is always going to be restricted, of course, and when you’re working, your focus should be on your work. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be observant when it comes to who’s ordering, especially when it comes to regulars.
You can’t just pull up a chair and join the interesting looking group sitting by the loos, but good customer service often requires a bit of chit-chat, and you may find yourself interacting with someone who works in the field you want to enter once you’ve graduated. Build up a bit of rapport with such people, and they may end up being useful contacts or even mentors.
If you are thinking about getting a graduate job in a particular industry, apply to shops that are positioned to serve members of that industry. Thinking of going into the insurance sector? See if you can find a cluster of insurance company offices, and make yourself a fixture in their local coffee shop.
Of course, this advice doesn’t apply if you want to continue on in the retail or hospitality industry. If that’s the case, you’ll be well placed whichever shop you choose!
Retail and hospitality businesses aren’t the only places hiring students, but they’re a great option for any seeking part-time work during their studies. If you’re interested, give it a shot!
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