Education: Jobs for the boys and girls

With the abolition of the student grant and the advent of tuition fees, most students have to work, if only to keep their overdraft down
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Indy Lifestyle Online
THE ADVENT of tuition fees and the abolition of the student grant is leading a new trend in student life. Gone are the days when long-haired hippy students could sit around day after day in the bar, going to the odd lecture if they felt like it, and talking about the finer points of Marxist theory, all courtesy of you, the taxpayer.

The stereotype is, thankfully, consigned to the dustbin of history. Students are now recognising that life at university or college is, for much of the time, a struggle against poverty. In days gone by, the sight of a student actually getting a job while they were at university would have knocked most people over! These days, a part-time job during their studies is a necessity for many.

The NUS says 40 percent of students have part-time jobs in term time. Though tutors may tut-tut at the idea of a student applying themselves to anything other than textbooks, the reality is that student loans provide a bare sustenance for many at university. Besides earning beer tokens, part-time work can be fun, useful to your studies, and may even help students into a potential career. The best place to try and find a job is probably at university or college itself. The student union will generally always need bar staff and for sporty types the campus sports centre is a good place to start.

Skills or qualifications (such as a lifeguard certificate) should be flaunted as they can lead to something better paid than the average student job. The university may also have a job shop, or at the very least a noticeboard, and the local job centre is always worth a look. Local papers may be the best option for bar and restaurant work, which is often the favouite cash flow solution for many a student.

Okay, student union bar work or waitressing in town probably won't earn a fortune, but hopefully, with the minimum wage coming in, the days of earning pounds 2 an hour should be banished forever. In terms of tax, you can earn a fair bit before getting taxed and if you do get too much taken off then it'll be refunded, eventually - try look at it as a way of saving!

Doing something even the slightest bit relevant to a future career could really jump-start employment prospects for new graduates in the years ahead. There are so many graduates around these days that it will be those who have combined the responsibilities of work and study whose CVs will be top of the pile come graduation.

It's all about working your way up from the bottom, sweetie! No matter how well educated a student is, they will almost certainly have to start as juniors learning the ropes in whatever field they want to get in to. So why not learn the ropes while at college? After all, Katy Hill, the Blue Peter presenter, started off as a secretary at the BBC before getting her big break.

Unfortunately, the majority of work that students are offered is by no means glamourous. They stand a good chance of finding that the only jobs on offer are mind-numbingly dull and soul destroying. Take my friend Bill, who worked his final year away in a pasty factory crimping the edges of the pasties to give them that authentic Cornish look - hours on end taking pasties off the conveyor belt in a room full of old ladies (his workmates). Okay, so the money was all right (pounds 4 per hour), but he got cramps in his hands and perpetually stank of onions!

Some jobs you are offered may be just downright dodgy. If it doesn't sound right, avoid it. Don't let anyone treat you badly, no matter how much you need the money.

For the drop-dead gorgeous or ultra-talented then why not try modelling or acting as an extra to earn big bucks through university. Check out the luvvies newspaper, The Stage, for adverts. One word of warning, though, do not dish out any money up front for agents. If they are genuine, they will get you the work first.

It's all too tempting for cash-strapped students to get seduced by the lure of an extra few pounds and to neglect their studies. Be careful! Strike a balance between working, playing and getting essays done. And it's not worth working yourself into an early grave either. Remember that students are supposed to be poverty-stricken, and it's only for a few years. Getting a good night's sleep and good grades will mean more readies in the future - and surely that's of far greater importance!

Just remember to live within your means - Dolce & Gabanna will most certainly be out of the wardrobe equation for a few years. But one day...

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