How to deal with a part-time job during your first year of uni

And your sanity

When filling out our UCAS applications, we were all aware of the incredible amount of debt that we would all be in as soon as we received that ‘Congratulations, your place for [ insert your degree choice here ] has been confirmed!’ email. Yet, we courageously accepted our sad fate, in hopes of doing so well at uni that the £26k+ of debt would not matter once we were all ridiculously rich and famous.

But the sad truth is that most of us cannot afford the luxury of doing a degree and living by ourselves, especially for the ones like me who decided it was a great idea to live in London as mostly 18-year-old, fresh out of Sixth Form young adults. For some of us, the only way out was to give in and get a part time job.

Scenes of young Londoners sprinting to meet their shifts on time

How to get a job in the first place

As a London student, you can easily find a retail job regardless of the area you live in; London retail stores are always desperate for part-timers and usually they will just ask for a coherent CV with minimal experience and a ‘good’ level of English.

If you had a part-time job in your hometown and can get transferred to another store in the city you’re moving to, do it. Most universities and their Students’ Union will also have a bunch of vacancies especially reserved for students at the beginning of the academic year, so once you know exactly which university you’re going to, have a look and apply for as many of them as you possibly can (also, these usually tend to pay way more than usual retail jobs and be more flexible and understanding when it comes to your availability and schedule, after all, you are paying them £9k a year for a degree.)

But this is the bad news: It is hard. It’s so damn hard, especially if you are working for a retail company, as usually they will give you an extremely inconvenient schedule that you will have to find a way to adapt to. Do not, in any circumstances, say you’ll only work weekends. I decided this was a good idea in the beginning of the year as I thought it’d be too inconvenient and tiring to work after uni, but it was the worst decision I have ever made, as I have no free time whatsoever and end up getting two hours of sleep every Saturday if I want to go out and enjoy the great social life London has to offer.

Or soon you’ll be this kind of social media user

In terms of your social life, you will just have to make sacrifices. And by sacrifices, I mean your usual eight hours a night sleeping pattern. If you want to do well at uni, have a part-time job and a social life, something’s gotta go, right? The holy triangle is impossible to reach unless you’re super good at time management or like, superhuman.

When your first essay deadlines and exams come up, it’ll be a hell of a lot of stress, so prepare yourself for it – instead of asking for days off for some shitty festival in the middle of rainy July that’ll result in you being covered in mud and various types of bodily discharge, just ask for your holiday days during reading week so you won’t have to stress yourself out when writing a two thousand word essay on why Sappho is so goddamn important (conclusion; somewhat).

But, most importantly, just have fun with it. If you get a job that you passionately hate, it will eventually lead you to destruction in all aspects and you’ll become a recluse – learn from my pre-reading week breakdown. If I can do it, you can do it.