Part time jobs: too much pressure?


Bethany Tourish pic

By Bethany Tourish


University students are often advised against taking up part-time employment and with good reason. Students have but a few years to master and perfect the act of juggling three essays, all whilst preparing for a presentation and revising for class tests. University should be treated like a full time job and any free time should be taken up with those oh so important extra-curricular activities.

I do not dispute for one moment that being solely dedicated to University is the most desired and beneficial ‘student experience’. It allows for time to learn new skills and develop relationships through sports and society membership. And, most importantly, gives students the best chance at excelling academically and attaining the best possible grades.

For students, having to go to work appears unattractive and seems impossible during a period of their life where sleeping is considered a luxury and ‘reading’ and ‘pleasure’ are never said together in the same sentence.

However, for many students it is impossible for this ideal ‘student experience’ to be more than just that. Perhaps it was the case during times when only society’s elite had the privilege of pursuing further education. But, things are changing in Scotland with more and more working class people attending university.

I want to very quickly move away from this being an issue of social ‘class’ because it is not. For many students, the loans are simply not enough to get by and without being fortunate enough to have generous wealthy parents they have no choice but to take up work.

Grades may suffer after having to miss a couple of lectures from tiredness after working a nightshift at the local supermarket. They may not have weeks to spend on assignments and need to pull an ‘all-nighter’ to meet a deadline after having to go on a training week for an advisor role in a telesales call centre. Those students might not have the time to join a sports club or become a member of the society. They may have to miss out on the subject Christmas Night Out as a result of maintaining a job. But what they will be doing is gaining experience that no classroom or professor could ever offer.

Whether they are scrubbing toilets or waiting tables, working students are already at an advantage to those not in employment. While it may not be obvious transferable skills in their chosen career path, the skills are still invaluable nonetheless.

Scrubbing toilets? Required skills: working towards a deadline while maintaining regulatory guidelines. Waiting tables? Front line customer service within a busy environment, complaint and dispute management, emotional intelligence…I think I have made my point.

What’s more, they will actually have something to write in the ‘employment history’ section of a CV as well as crucial interview skills. Not to mention that their time-management will be tuned down to a fine art.

Those who have to manage work commitments as well as the demands of university show drive, resilience and crazy organisation skills. All qualities that I have heard potential employers hate*.

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