The struggles of having a part-time job as a uni student
Complaining about the job is the best part of the job, right?
Being a full-time student is a full-time occupation. Though manageable and done by thousands, a degree sometimes takes all of your time. If you're lucky and you plan your time well you might be able to do a society or sport on the side, and maybe even have a social life. Finding the time to have a part-time job, though, is a whole different ball game.
Part-time jobs usually entail around 20 hours of work a week, give or take a bit. Doing 100 per cent of a degree (ideally) and around 50 per cent of a job comes with its challenges. If you're anything like me and you're attempting to balance university work, friends, sports, societies, household duties, me-time once in a while AND a part-time job you'll recognise these struggles…
Say goodbye to all spontaneity
One of the best parts of uni is being able to pop a message on the group chat on a Tuesday evening and an hour later you're all sat in The Peartree. Or someone always being around to grab a coffee on a library break. Want a part-time job? Say goodbye to being able to participate in any of this.
Working around 20 hours' worth of shifts a week means that much of your schedule is tightly packed and meticulously planned. Usually I will have 2 or 3 nights off from work a week if I'm lucky, and I fill those up two weeks in advance to make sure I can see my friends sometimes.
Want to hang out? Book me way ahead of time because I now work on a 3-week rota.
Despite planning ahead and trying to make things work as much as possible, it is inevitable that there will be countless times when you can't make it to things because you're working.
20 hours of work can't just be planned in anywhere, and most of the time employers don't give a fuck about that house party you really wanted to go to, or the event you've been looking forward to for months.
Before you know it you're missing just about everything and you barely even know what the inside of a club looks like anymore. Forget having friends who also work; trying to coordinate to work schedules is just about the most impossible thing.
Unless you do bar or club work, your shifts most likely don't go too late into the night, making it feasible to still socialise after work. But who the fuck wants to go to a party or hit Gari's after being on their feet for seven hours? Sure, I love a boogie, but after work all I want to do is sit on the couch eating hummus and crisps and go to bed.
There is something about doing both a job and uni that has resulted in me running absolutely everywhere. Sometimes when I leave home in the mornings I will be gone for 15 hours at a time, running from the gym to class to the library to lunch with friends to a work shift. With a part-time job there are very little hours in the day, certainly not enough time to get from place to place.
Somehow you end up always being in a rush; I can't remember the last time I took a leisurely walk anywhere.
Having to be an adult
A part-time job is a responsibility quite different from all the other aspects of uni life. While many assignments can be done last minute, and a 9am can be skipped if you're too hungover, a job can't just be cancelled on. People are always counting on you, and there are real consequences of being late, making mistakes, doing a bad job, or not showing up.
A part-time job takes a new kind of adulting around your degree as well. Gone are the days where you could go to the library an entire day, spend 50% of it scrolling Facebook and getting coffee with friends, and still get done what you set out to do.
Now, when there are 5 hours in the day for me to work, every hour needs to be a productive hour. No longer can you sit down to grind on that essay when you feel inspired or energetic. A part-time job means that, suddenly, there are very little hours in the week to get stuff done.
People assume you'll pay for shit
If you're lucky (and I am aware that so many people are not) a part-time job means you have a little bit more money to spend on yourself every week.
Everyone who has a job during university will be familiar with the lines "You're the one with the job" or "But you work??", as if having a job suddenly means that I have loads of cash to splash. But I am not busting my ass for 23 hours a week so I can buy your ass a fucking drink in Subway am I?
If anything, working teaches you to value money rather than spend it thoughtlessly. Whenever I buy something now my brain automatically translates it into hours of work, hearing suddenly in the back of my head: "You have to work 1.5 hours to earn this pizza back". So no, I'm not paying for your shit.
Part-time work is soul-destroying
Having a part-time job during university almost certainly means you are in the service industry, either working in food or retail. For anyone who has never done work like this before, let me assure you, it is brutal.
Though there are rewarding parts, customer service is usually physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging and exhausting. Long monotonous hours spent on your feet, doing the same things over and over again. Not to mention the fact that a lot of customers treat people, particularly young workers, in the service industry like dirt.
Edinburgh, furthermore, has shit pay, so more often than not you're busting your ass for minimum wage and shit hours.
Unlike my full-time co-workers who, at the latest, need to be up by 10:30am to make it to their next shift, by 9am I am most likely already sat at my desk in the library having finished my gym session. And when I come into work at 5pm in the evenings I have most likely pulled an entire day studying on campus.
Ever wondered what it's like to be unmotivated, tired and emotional after a full day working on a shit assignment in the library, and then having to show up to a six-hour shift? Or having to go to work for nine hours two days before an exam you're worried you might fail? Let me tell you: it's horrible. But work is a real commitment, and you can't just not show up the way you don't to that 9am you didn't prepare for.
Working part-time alongside your degree is no joke, and anyone who manages to do that and more is a fucking hero who deserves your full respect.