As the rush to acquire funds for summer vacations begins, Faye Docherty looks at the difficulties facing students both with and without jobs
In today’s Ireland and the current economic state that we live in, garnering a part-time job is like finding the golden ticket. The idea that you can stroll into your local newsagent, ask for hours and leave with a sufficiently paid part-time job is unfortunately dead and gone.
Students are not just competing with one another to get jobs; they are also going up against adults. One positive, however, is that students are no longer confined to work in the village’s supermarket or to babysit their neighbours’ children. Students are being creative in their efforts to secure jobs. They’re finding jobs in the events sector, club promotions and are even infrequently working in places such as the Aviva or the O2.
For those students who are currently employed, their days are spent painstakingly balancing their part-time jobs and college work. While the employed greatly appreciate the hours they have, they will regularly complain about work and the fact they have to go to it.
While the unemployed find it decidedly hard to sympathise, it does raise the question of whether or not students can balance their job, college assignments and social lives. And because of the hours they give up to part-time work, is their academic achievement affected?
When it comes to our generation, it is an unfortunate fact that we are obsessed with the latest fashion and technology, while keeping a busy and expensive social life. Said lifestyle is not cheap to maintain and with summer right around the corner, having no money is a living nightmare.
Students are turning more and more to loans to accommodate their spending needs. In recent years, getting a student loan has become a harsh necessity, as part-time jobs have become less readily available. The truth is that most places are just not hiring. They can’t afford us and they don’t need us.
When asking UCD students whether or not they find getting part-time work an issue, the majority of them claim they find it difficult to secure a job. First-year Arts student, Rachel Duffy, works in an after-school child care centre three days a week and confirms there are challenges facing third-level students with regard to part-time work. She says: “My lecture hours are insane, so for me it made it very difficult to get a steady part-time job.”
When asked would she take out a student loan, Duffy says: “Yes, definitely. I suppose if I was living on campus I would have to, as my part-time hours wouldn’t be sufficient, but luckily I live at home so for the moment I don’t need to.”
Another generally accepted consensus is that part-time work doesn’t just eat away at a student’s time but it also affects their energy levels for study. For Duffy, this is a huge issue. “Minding children is very tiring,” she says.
First-year English and Drama student, Sophie Ryan, agrees with Duffy’s sentiments completely. Ryan is one of the many students who can’t find part-time work. In response to asking whether she has tried to find a part-time job, she says: “God yes, I’ve put my CV into a countless number of places and I haven’t heard back once.”
Unfortunately, many UCD students are left with the same frustration. When asked if she thinks part-time work is essential for a student, Ryan says: “It’s a definite necessity, especially as the summer is coming up.”
From the comments of Ryan and others, it’s obvious the summer months are playing on many students’ minds. Funding this period is an issue that can cause a lot of stress. For many students, a loan is a daunting and intimidating prospect and Ryan says she would try and avoid taking out one if possible: “I’d prefer not to. If I couldn’t pay it back, what would I do?”
In terms of passing tests and completing assignments on time, it’s about developing a knack at balancing work and play. Unfortunately, many students don’t get involved in extra-curricular activities and bypass student life in favour of taking extra hours at work. As many lecturers and tutors will say, college is and should be a student’s first priority. If part-time work, college and a hectic social life aren’t in a state of equilibrium, there is no denying which of these areas you would be advised to sacrifice and say goodbye to.