“It’s crazy!” I heard them say. Shrugging my shoulders, I hurriedly ordered a Chicken Burger, the usual quick takeaway meal that I eat on my way to work. I worked multiple part-time jobs and took on contract full-time jobs during term breaks. Busy as a bee, my friends call me, but they know I’ve never compromised my standards in group work. Neither was it at the expense of good grades, or at least that’s what I feel. Taking on multiple commitments was never easy, but looking back, it benefitted me in so many ways.
Understanding the value of time
I worked most of the time, but there were periods where I took time off to study. I must say I was way more efficient when I was juggling work. When I was working, I was all packed up and the first to leave the lecture hall the moment the class ended. I was one of the quicker few to start and make good progress on individual projects, mainly because I had this “I have no time” mentality.
On the other hand, when I was not working, I found that I was going very easy on myself: having more snack breaks, coffee breaks, shopping breaks,etc. When my friends knew my schedule was less packed, we hung out more. We spent most of our time doing mindless things to pass the time and to delay revision for that dreadful history module chapter we hated. Too much free time can rear the monster in us that we call: procrastination.
I’m sure many students agree that working may have more negative effects than positive, especially on school grades. I guess this works for people who are not as self-disciplined like me. To each his own.
Cherishing student life
Life is but a bed of thorns. At least, that’s what it feels like once you start working. Superiors are harsh, working hours are long, politics aplenty, customers can be difficult and you probably have to get up earlier and sleep later than all your peers.
Despite it all, I pressed onbecause you never know what’s good until it’s gone. I cherished the innocence and naivety of my friends whom I rarely had conflicts with. Peers whom I thought were scheming and shrewd now seem like amateurs, and I no longer took offence with them. Having most meals alone at work, or with the companionship of single middle-aged colleagues who complained about having no one to meet on their off days, I truly appreciated being surrounded by friends who were and easily there for me.
As my perspectives started to change, I matured as well. I started making decisions that were more time, cost and effort efficient, something which I took for granted before. After working, I realised how money isn’t earned that easily—something that takes time and hard work. As I was paid by the hour, I learned how time is money, so that should never be wasted as well. And that translated to better decisions I made as a student in my personal and education life.
At an early age, I developed characteristics such as honesty, reliability, pro-activeness, courage and independence. Having these qualities has helped me to juggle my hectic student life and better manage social relations especially in group projects.
Needless to say, it was a lot easier to clinch internships and job interviews with prior work experience. Despite having some irrelevant part-time jobs, it shows potential employees that you are proven reliable and trustworthy as compared to other fresh graduates who are vying for the same position. Tip: Good to include past employers as referees as well.
Strangely, I find working a form of de-stress from the regurgitation of textbook content as a student. When I had the freedom to pick any part-time job that I liked, I began to enjoy it very much. As they say, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day of your life.” Having being able to do a “trial run”, I was able to find out my likes and dislikes of the various jobs before actually having to dive into it as a full-time worker.
When I first started working, my bosses commended me for showing great maturity and making well-informed decisions, which has become a great stepping stone in my career.
All in all, I’d say that working while studying has benefitted immensely. I encourage students to take on part-time jobs for experience, especially during your holidays. If you decide to do part-time jobs during school term like me, I advise you to pick jobs which have lower commitment and more flexibility in working hours to cater for hectic submission and examination periods.
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