Should I get a part-time job whilst I study?

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Being a student is a time in your life where your main focus is on studying and obtaining the qualifications of your choice. A time when you discover your independence, make new friends, start potential lifelong relationships and also have fun.

It is also a time, in my opinion to get a part-time job. A part-time job, or any job for that matter, teaches you a number of skills and life lessons, some of which I discuss below.

My personal experience

I got my first job at age 14, working in my mother's shop as an assistant. I did whatever needed to be done; sweeping, re-stocking shelves and serving customers. I didn't get paid much, however the terms were not strict. For example, I only helped out during vacations and when I got tired, I could disappear and hang out with my friends and cousins who lived nearby. Also, my mother had a full time shop assistant, so this took the pressure off me!

When I was 16, I had a 3 week stint working at one of the trade fairs in Ghana, a job I found for myself!

These experiences prepared me for my first "real" paying job during my first year of university which was in the U.K. I had barely been at university for 1 week when I took a bus to the town centre and saw a sign looking for part-time cashiers in the local supermarket. I applied and was hired within days.

Even at 18 years of age, I knew I wanted to make an honest living and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. I went on to have other part-time jobs such as; my 2 month job organising files for a consultant, and my vacation job spent organising stock photos for a magazine.

These experiences taught me many valuable lessons including :

1. Punctuality: It didn't matter whether I was out the night before and operating on little or no sleep, I had to show up at work at my reporting time. I realised there and then that this was not my mother's store and I couldn't disappear when I felt like it (this realisation hit me like a ton of bricks). I had to prioritise my school work, make time to hang out with friends and also show up for work on time. It was an early lesson in time management and punctuality for which I am eternally grateful.

2. Teamwork. I learnt to work with other people, many of whom were far more experienced than I was, and also from very different backgrounds. When I was new on the cashier till, I had to learn from other team members, ask for help and sometimes pass on my knowledge to newer colleagues. Learning to be a true team player is vital to one's success.

3.Flexibility. There were times I would got to work and be asked to handle a different part of the shop floor than was originally planned. For example, instead of being responsible for groceries, I could be asked to handle the newspaper and magazine section. Sometimes, I had to arrange products on shelves. There were many times I felt like complaining but I looked around at the others on my team and kept my mouth shut. Everyone was doing their work and looking forward to their pay at the end of the week. Why should I be any different? I focused on mastering my craft and earning my money!

4. Integrity. Working with money on a daily basis reinforces the importance of accuracy and honesty. Integrity essentially means being honest and trustworthy. It is important for your employers to trust you, and this is particularly vital when things go wrong ( and they will). When things don't go as planned or there is a crisis, it is important that you fully disclose your part in the matter (if any). Withholding information which may be found out later by your superiors, will make things a lot worse than they need to be. Full disclosure and transparency is key.

5. Humility. No one knows everything and it is important that you are humble enough to ask questions, take corrections and improve.

In African countries such as Ghana where I live, part-time jobs are not necessarily advertised, however it means that we (as individuals) have to be pro-active and approach business owners for these types of opportunities.

I encourage you to be bold and go for it! You never know what opportunities are out there just waiting for you.

Best Wishes!

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