Beyond the Books Part 1: Working Part Time

Beyond the Books: Embellishing University Life
Part One: Working Part Time

In an effort to succeed academically, many of us students prioritise our studies above all else; but while our diligence and hard work is doubtlessly positive, we often neglect valuable opportunities to develop the non-academic aspects of our lives in favour of spending grueling hours hunched over our readings, sealed off from the rest of the world. So what lies beyond the books, and how can we tiptoe the fine line between being conscientious students and perhaps sacrificing a little too much? In this multi-part series, using my own experiences in striving toward ‘well roundedness’, I hope to illuminate the strands of student life that may have less to do with our studies, but may still be immensely valuable to students seeking a balanced university life.

Although additional work may not seem like a helpful antidote to the potentially overwhelming studies we undertake during our university careers, I have personally found getting a part time job to be one of the best decisions I made all year. As soon as teaching begun, I started picking up shifts in a local cafe on days with only a few contact hours at King’s. Playing barista and waitress for a few hours each Wednesday and Friday, I was able to switch off the studious side of my brain, spend time doing something easy and fun, and tap into my sociable side, getting to know the people in my community and learning a new skill (hooray for latte art!) along the way. I’m forever grateful for the friends I’ve made and the team I’ve become a part of, the support from my community as I develop personal relationships with customers, and my role in helping to maintain our coffee shop as the cosiest little corner of the neighbourhood.

For me, getting a job was less about necessity (although it has definitely been a pleasure to earn some extra cash); it gave me an outlet, someplace else to be other than at school or the library, a sense of identity beyond the sole label of ‘student’. During the busier seasons of the academic year, I actually looked forward to taking on a shift at work, where I knew I’d be free of the stresses my studies sometimes brought me, and where I knew that my colleagues and customers alike would bring a smile to my face.

Although I’m sure many students may feel as though they’ll never be able to carve enough time out of their already busy weeks to commit to a job, it’s often more doable than you think, especially if like me, you are lucky enough to be employed by an establishment that is willing to be flexible with student employees. I cannot emphasise enough how beneficial I believe it is to get beyond the books by taking on part time work; sometimes, breaking up our time at school by playing a new part that can be easy and fun is surprisingly the most comfortable costume to slip on.

Issabella Orlando