Student Life | The Pros and Cons of a Job During First Year

By Issy Goode - 18:28

Not too long ago I was asked over twitter and by one of my work friends whether it was worth getting a job in first year, and having only worked during my holidays back home I decided to try and get opinions from other students and graduates who worked throughout their uni years to form a post from experiences that will hopefully help you decide if you want, and need, a job in your first year.

I've tried my hardest with the pros and cons I've gathered not to make it a one sided argument, and I hope you find all the things listed below from the experiences of students and graduates helpful in making your own decision. 

The Pros

Some people have a lovely big loan that covers their accommodation and student lifestyle, but others don't have this available to them and nor do they have the support of their parents income to hold them up (as student finance suggests they should) so for many, running short on cash is a common occurrence. The obvious answer for this is to work. If you get yourself a job at uni, you've got an income, meaning constant money rather than a block sum that sits in your account twiddling its thumbs waiting to be spent. The universal pro from all those I spoke to was, unsurprisingly, money!

'It's so nice just to have a bit of extra cash' 
Georgia, Keele Uni

'It was good to have an income and it taught me a lot about time management' 
Lucy from LuceStephenson, Teesside University

Once again, with your own income comes further independence. When your loan starts to run dry you won't have to turn to mum and dad pleading for an extra tenner, that you say will be spent on food, but in fact buys you a cheap bottle of voddy, entry on a Friday night, and of course a cheap kebab to sate your hunger so your conscience is clear, having not entirely lied to mum and dad.

'I took less of a student loan as I was able to pay my own rent'
Lucy from Books and Brooches, graduate

Something to do
Often throughout first year many of us found ourselves unbelievably bored when the weather was being predictable and English, the evening entertainment was non existent, and especially on weekends, when a lot of people visited their families back home. I know I find having a job during the holidays an instant cure for boredom, and I imagine had I had one during my first year up at Keele, I wouldn't have watched repeats of TV shows I was risking knowing the script to.

'I'd say it's pretty easy having a job during first year, and it's the best year to' 
Nin from Prettypug, University of Leicester graduate

'I went for promotional work for clubs or catering events. You work when you want, so it's flexible!' 
Amy from Amy Maccers, Bournemouth University

'I was earning money and work gave me something to do at weekends' 
Clare from Uncia and Tigris, graduate 

Financially flexible
With your own income, you can be more flexible with your money, knowing that more is coming in next month. You may not have to scrimp and spend like your peers will! No instant noodles in this students belly (though in my opinion, noodles are a fantastic meal no matter your fortune). 

New friends
With many jobs you'll find it's a great way to make a new bunch of friends, especially if you work with like minded young people. This could mean potential nights out with 'the work mates'.

'I worked in the student's union bar and in a nightclub too; I earned money, got free booze and met new people'
 Georgina from Mummy Pixie, graduate 

Boosts your CV
You'll find it hard when it comes to applying for jobs at the end of uni (though you're only in your first year so far remember!) if you haven't had any experiences in which you can refer to when you say how amazing, reliable and responsible you are. This is where having a job comes in so handy, because you can use examples for all those buzzwords you throw at the interviewers.

'A positive of a job at uni is more money and work experience' 
Claire from Bella's Beauty Blog, graduate

'The experience of having a job during first year helped me get other jobs throughout uni'
Hannah from Moving Scouse

The Cons

A commitment
Jobs require you to be committed, turning up for work on time and being consistent with your service and attendance. Much like university, you'll need to put some work in to earn something from it. This means you can't pull a sicky every weekend shift when you've hit it hard on a Friday night, you can't  necessarily make definite plans (for example on a zero hours contract) and you may even be required to work weekdays.

'I felt I was always busy, tired and had less of a social life' 
Claire from Bella's Beauty Blog, graduate 

Work upon work
As I said above, a job will require effort from you like university will. And whilst during first year you'll hear that it 'doesn't count' the same can't be said for a job. If you want to earn money, every shift counts, so you can't treat it like you may treat lectures during first year, being too hungover, too tired or simply too lazy to attend. Furthermore, when your uni work starts to pile up, your work place may not be understanding and give you the time off you need to revise and study. The one thing you don't need during your first year of university is unnecessary stress.

'Freshers' is such a unique time in your life, make the most of it' 
Nin, UOL graduate

'I was exhausted and ill a lot because I was so drained' 
Lucy, Teesside Uni

'The hangovers at work were a con, and cramming in uni work in between shifts was hard. I found it hard to turn down the money and now wish I had more time to study' 
Katie from Miss Enchanting, graduate

The risk of losing your focus
Sometimes money can seem quite important, but you came to university for a degree, and if you find that you have enough money to get by (getting by meaning to eat, have a decent time and pay rent) is it worth distracting yourself from the course you chose to do and the opportunities university presents?

'I had less time to relax and do university work whilst I had a job' 
Lucy from Books and Brooches, graduate

'The union bar job was good, but working the night club was probably the biggest mistake, with late nights not finishing until 4am' 
Georgina from Mummy Pixie, graduate

Losing out on time to socialise
Everyone has had that one shift that's got in the way of big plans with your friends, and at university there's always a lot going on and you can't keep swapping around your shifts to make sure you're free for this and that event. Whilst a job will help fund your social life, it may also steal you away from those fun nights out.

'I started three days before the first day of uni, and in my own Freshers’ Week I worked 24 hours. I missed half of the events and was working double my contracted hours.' 
Frae from HeyGurl, London (Read more about her experience here)

'I worked in a bar on weekends, had no social life and worked until 3am every Friday and Saturday'
Sinead from Blue Sky Daze, graduate

Flexible schedule
Not having a job will bring you flexibility when it comes to time. You'll have your university timetable to commit to, but other than that your evenings and weekends are all your own, to get up to whatever you may wish.

'You have less time to hang around after lectures with friends' 
Hannah from Moving Scouse

'I'd say working at your uni is best, as that way you can get the holidays off, I worked in retail and it was horrible spending my first year working during the Christmas holidays' 
Charlotte from Being Charlotte, graduate

From asking friends and fellow bloggers, the consensus was that it was down to the individual. Everyone could list at least one pro and one con of working during their first year, from their own experiences. All these things can be dependent on the type of work you do, with many preferring working through the university, as they have an understanding concerning your other commitments. All the positives that can be gained from a job ring true for any year you study at university, likewise with the negatives, so it's your decision to choose whether or not to get a job during first year based on your timetable, your finances and your free time.

Good luck settling in if you've already arrived at uni, and I look forward to meeting new Keelites in a few weeks time!

Thank you to all those who contributed with their pros and cons, and I hope you've found this useful in helping you decide. 

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  1. Lovely post! Love how many different voices you have echoing through this, perfect!

    1. Thank you! I thought it was quite important to get in some quotes from other people who had experienced working during their first, it's turned out just how I wanted it to! :) Thanks for reading!

  2. I probably did things the wrong way and got myself a job during third year! I definitely think getting a job during first year is the best time if you know you need a job. I wish I didn't have to work during my last year but I really need the money. Its great that you've got opinions from lots of people on both sides of the argument.

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

    1. Busy time to get a job, but I know so many people who did it! Totally agree, if you're not desperately in need of one though I think it's best to just be a little irresponsible, though money management is the best way to keep the funds in check and not have to worry about working! I'm the same, though struggling to find a job! I felt it was very important to make this post honest! Thanks for reading :) x


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