From November of my first year at Warwick onwards, I have had a part time job that I have juggled alongside society commitments and my course work. I am particularly lucky in that my job allows me to pick my shifts week by week if and when I wish to work, a rare privilege that has made this juggling act much simpler. There are a great number of benefits to taking part in paid work during your time at university as opposed to just during the holidays, both logistically and personally.
A considerable benefit of having a job at university is to avoid having to rely solely on your parents if your maintenance loan does not stretch to cover living costs and socialising. Personally, I have always hated the term ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ as it conjures images of irresponsibility and immaturity. As a Humanities student, I only have six contact hours per week, leaving me with a vast amount of independent study time. As a result, it is relatively easy to organise my own schedule to allow for both independent study and working part time as opposed to somebody who has 20+ contact hours a week.
This means that if I know I have an expensive night out coming up that would require me to buy tickets or a specific outfit, I will make sure I am working shifts in the coming weeks in order to pay for it. This avoids any guilt felt at having to take money from my parents in order to pay for non-necessities as, now that I am living independently for most of the year and out of compulsory education, I feel it inappropriate that my parents should fund my social life if it is not at all necessary.
Additionally, this leaves me completely independent with no need to justify my choices. Having earnt the money, I can therefore spend it on whatever I wish; if I want to splurge on Billie Eilish tickets, I can do so. If I want to get an Uber home after a night out or treat myself to a takeaway, I don’t need to consider whether or not my parents have transferred me enough money as I am much more aware of my own incomings and outgoings. In order to do this, I keep a finance spreadsheet, noting down what I have spent at the end of each week in order to make sure that I am staying within budget.
However, part-time work won’t simply fund your social life, but also your savings. With the costs of living rising every year and the development of the term “Generation Rent”, it’s important to consider life after university as well as having a safety net for any expensive emergencies in the future. It means that you are covered for unexpected course costs, car troubles, broken headphones, library fines and anything else that might crop up during term time.
I recognise that I am extremely privileged in that, unlike some, I would still be able to afford to attend university without having another source of income, yet I choose to work part time as I believe it has provided me with a greater sense of independence and responsibility, more so than I have experienced through engaging in societies and volunteering. When you are getting paid, you cannot cancel last minute or turn up late; you are forced to be extremely punctual and reliable. Part-time work helps to pad out your CV and demonstrate skills beyond those that can be attained through academic study as well as providing a new dimension to your university experience.