Written by Mel Bermingham
Finding part time work can be really difficult. Trying to fit part time work around University life is harder. When looking for part time work there are many different areas you can go into; the most common are hospitality and retail.
Working in retail gives you decent hours; occasional early mornings and only one late night a week, making it easy to go on pub crawls. If you aren’t able to arrange your uni timetable to give you full days off then it makes it harder to for your employer to work around your timetable.
Working in hospitality generally means working shorter shifts more days of the week and you can easily work around even the most poorly planned university timetable. Working in restaurants or cinemas, your busiest nights are Fridays and Saturday nights, because of this you will rarely get into to town before 11 (if you’re lucky!).
Big businesses at the end of the day are more concerned with their profits than whether or not you have enough shifts that week. This is why most people try to steer clear of these kinds of cold employers. Because they have enough staff they are often able to be quite flexible with your shifts and it is relatively easy to get days off work (especially around exam time). They have a larger amount of employees so they don’t take it as hard if you call in sick.
Small businesses are quite close knit; they have fewer employees and get to know each of them quite well. Your employer will probably help negotiate your shifts around your university hours. However because there are less employees asking for a night off can sometimes be a problem. Some employers are pretty good about it, but it is a case of first in, first serve. Small businesses have a lot of pressure trying to compete in the market place and can be very good to you if you are good to them. The relationship between employee and employer is a lot more fragile in small business.
Working around University is about balance. If you start looking for work, remember just because you have time free from Uni doesn’t mean it’s free for work. There are a lot of things you need to factor in time for: eating, sleeping, friends, town, parties, hangovers, sleep, travelling, band or sport related commitments. Then on top of that probably some homework here and there.
When negotiating your hours with your employer make sure you are forceful when it comes to cutting back your hours. However many hours you choose to do each week make sure your employer is willing to cut them back for you if you have overloaded yourself. It is easy to become overwhelmed when you first start juggling work and study, or even as your studies progress and get harder. Also try to get extra hours during the holidays and, if like me you have trouble saving, it is better to spend it on things you will use the next semester (like new clothes!).