I was looking for a job…

Saturday 22 April 2022

” … and then (they) found a job

Heavens knows I’m Miserable now: The Smiths

As we move into the second half of April, two of my offspring find themselves on the payroll…

In the Scottish capital, Prom-dress daughter secures a job in a trendy cocktail bar and closer to home, in the pretty village up the road from our house, Small Boy is taken on at a local coffee shop. They are both very excited, well for my daughter, struggling to stretch a student loan to cover living costs, there is also a lot of relief.

Is it wrong, however, that I feel a little concerned?

Of course, I understand the attraction of some extra funds for a teenager and I also accept that I have never experienced the financial challenges and worries that today’s University students face. Nonetheless, I also know that one route to real financial choice and security comes from a decent set of qualifications and my question is this; can you have both? Can you get the best grades if your time is divided between work and study?

I’m not the only one to wonder. Oxbridge continue to actively discourage term-time work. But, in a landscape of spiralling costs, many students find that they simply have no choice because loans frequently fail to even cover the basic rent. Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, highlights the additional pressures on students from less affluent backgrounds,

“For many, wages from part-time work are the only way they can make ends meet …. It’s tough and it’s often the students’ academic work that loses out.”

Others point out that it is not only studying time, but also social time that is squeezed by the addition of a job into the student schedule, which can lead to isolation and stress. One student, in the Guardian Article, ‘How much part-time work should I take on while studying?‘ reported “getting really run-down and ill” and being “always envious of friends who could just concentrate on their studies”

Well ‘heaven’s knows I’m miserable now‘, that all sounds rather grim, so what of the benefits? Clearly there’s the cash, but does part-time job have any other advantages?

Reassuringly UCAS, in the article ‘Balancing work and study’ point our several plus points,

As long as it doesn’t take up too much study time, finding a part-time job is a great way to gain more money, less debt, and new skills for your CV

The cite a range of generic employability skills such as: communication, team work and time management. And, dependant on the nature or the role, point out that students can also learn various technical skills and that ‘above all, employers will want you to display the same skills in fresh thinking and systematic working that make you a success academically‘ . This positive view of part-time employment is echoed by several other Universities too, as well as, less surprisingly, most employment agencies.

The key seems to be the balance and two pieces of sage advice ring in my ears as I read through the various pieces of guidance in this area. The first is the recommendation from most course providers that part-time work, during term time, is kept to a maximum of 15 – 20 hours per week. The second is not to lose sight of why you are studying in the first place and to be prepared to lose the shifts if your grades or health start to suffer.

“Remember that you’re paying to be at uni and get a degree, so don’t waste that by running yourself into the ground”

Sound and sensible words indeed. I’ll keep it in mind as we enter the new world of the teenage workers …

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