Would you like a job with that?

A catch 22. That’s the best way to describe life as a student with a part time job. The financial independence is something that can never be outdone, and it feels infinitely better to buy that coveted iPhone 5s with the money you earned yourself, and not money you “borrowed” from your Dad. The downside? You have to actually work. As in really work, not sit at the till all day and refresh your Twitter feed while pretending to hit a few buttons.

For most students, college work takes precedence. They hibernate in the library, only emerging when the canteen is closed, meaning they have to source their coffee from the outside.

For others, college has to take a back seat so they can earn the money they need to stay there. Last year, roughly 44 per cent of students have had to skip lectures to go to work, meaning almost half of third-level students had to value their bank balance over their education. With the economy facing yet another year of hardship, this isn’t a rare event.

If a student is all work and no play, it makes for a very dull college experience. Whatever about the pressures of academic life, solace can always be found in a pizza box, or by dancing until the small hours at the local night club.

The same can’t be done if you work long hours, day and night. Even early starts and afternoon finishes can play havoc with a person’s sleep pattern; so when Coppers comes calling, sitting the session out becomes a regular occurrence, leading to cries of “dry” as your friends board a taxi. Without you.

For those among us with a job in the area where we go to college, a new challenge presents itself; getting time off work to see the folks at home. They go from complaining about having to fund your “degree in socialising”, to lamenting your absence to the neighbours (fairly sure half the parish has heard you haven’t been seen since you went back to college, and there are missing person’s posters with your face on it adorning every building in town).

The laundry (who knows how to work a washing machine apart from the Mother?) lies festering at the bottom of the laundry basket, the three week old socks growing their own new pair. The cupboards resemble something from that nursery rhyme you learned in play-school about a woman having no food for the dog. It’s a sorry sight when you haven’t the time or energy to cook, despite being able to afford luxury dinners because you’ve just been paid.

Is a job the worst thing in the world? No. Aside from the immense pleasure you get from buying something flashy with money you worked hard to earn, the social aspect of the job is more than enough to draw you in. Ever hear your friends laugh as they remember something funny a co-worker did over the weekend? Now you can join in the camaraderie.

Unless you work the graveyard shift. You’d be hard pushed to find anyone that’s even remotely a bit of craic at 4am.

Aoife Bennett

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