I am a typical girl. I adore shopping, I love going for coffee with my chums and I love having a bit of money on the side to get my hair snipped, go to the cinema or buy some flowers in town on a Saturday morning. Many of the boys I know are the same; they like to put some pennies aside for grabbing a pizza and some beer when the rugby is on, or to fund a trip to Bristol or to buy the newest FIFA game. At University, having some ‘money for a rainy day’ is really handy.
This is why I decided to get a part-time job to keep up in tandem with my studies at the University of Bath. Naturally, you’re probably grimacing at the idea of getting in from a day of lectures and seminars and shooting off to a job. You also might think giving up that Sunday lie in and flat bacon breakfast for the workplace may suck too. I disagree- working whilst at University has definitely helped me to fund some brilliant Christmas presents for my friends and family, and I’ve met some truly lovely people at work and it’s definitely a release from my studies which is really welcomed at times, especially with those beastly exams looming!
Just to throw another spanner into the works, I’ve actually got two, yes two jobs at University! This sounds a little nutty, doesn’t it? How can I possibly work towards a ‘first’ classification (something I really want to achieve from University), keep up with people socially and have two jobs. Well actually, it hasn’t proved that hard! Stick with me here, it totally works for me!
I decided that the best and most convenient place to get a job would be on campus. This would mean I wouldn’t have to ramble down the hill, or get on a packed bus on a Saturday morning for work and I could be really close to my Halls of Residency. Fact: I did indeed manage to swipe up a part-time job on campus, and it takes me 37 seconds to get there! As barmy as it sounds to time my stroll to work, it really does show just how handy the placing of work is for me.
To get my job on campus, I decided to start job-hunting early. I frequently scrolled the JobLink website and listings provided by the University of Bath for students looking for jobs before I came to University. I did specify when seeking a job that I wanted a post on campus, but I did also send my CV to some cafes, shops and cleaning positions in the City of Bath; this frankly wouldn’t be too hard as it only takes a few minutes to get to town on the bus, and the buses are really frequent. The city is pretty compact too, so I knew that shops and eateries would be easy to find and get to.
I sent my application to a café/restaurant on campus called The Lime Tree and on the first day of Freshers’ week, I got an email inviting me to an ‘informal interview’ at the Lime Tree. I was still a little muddled as a disorientated, frazzled Fresher but I decided to go along and give it my best shot.
The interview was indeed very informal, and just felt like a chat over coffee with the managers, although some grilling questions did pop up. Luckily, it went really well and only days later I got an email saying that they would like to employ me as a member of their casual staff. Many of the contracts on campus are ‘casual’ which means in most cases you won’t have a fixed, rigid contract and you can essentially tailor your hours around your other commitments, picking and choosing when best suits you to work.
I find this really helpful as I don’t have to worry about whether going to a talk, listening in to an extra lecture or going out in the evening clashes with work, as I just choose not to work during those times. Add to this, another bonus of working on campus is that in 2014 the Students' Union campaigned for everyone to earn the ‘living wage’ and this means I earn a very adequate amount and I don’t have to go without a new pair of trainers when I fancy them! Yay!
Another advantage of working on campus is that you’re not tied to a contract in town which may require you to work during Christmas, Easter or over the summer as no one is on Campus at these times and thus I can go home without worrying about working or having to find cover in order to get time off.
If I was to offer some advice on getting a part-time job at University; here are my pearls of wisdom:
- Prioritise your studies – Even if you’re offered extra hours or premium pay for adding on a few shifts a week consider whether this will affect coursework deadlines, examination revision or even just staying on top of your reading and learning.
- Hunt around – Don’t settle for the first job as the pay may be poor, the hours offered may be a little skewed or it may be too tiring to return from and then cook a meal, clean your room, make a presentation etc. Avoid manual or labour-heavy jobs so that you are not exhausted when you need to get up for an early lecture!
- Weekend posts rock – try and aim for places that are looking for ‘part-time weekend staff’, as opposed to only ‘part time’ staff as this may entail more work during the week, which is much less convenient than on a Saturday or Sunday. You don’t want to have to rush off from lectures to work or have work clashing with group work meetings. The weekends are the best time to cram in a paid position, although think ahead if your family are popping to see you at the weekend and try and swindle some time off to see them.
- Keep tabs on payment – make an Excel spreadsheet or jot down the hours you work and the rate of pay you’re on. Make sure when you’re paid weekly or monthly that you’ve been paid the right amount and carry out some research to make sure that you’ve been taxed correctly.
I also am lucky enough to manage the social media presence of a Tea Business, and find that this too is very flexible around my degree. Do remember that if you want to have another small job, or some voluntary work, alongside a a part-time job AND your studies then make sure it doesn’t distract you from the reason you’re here- to learn!