Go Higher: Scotland and Northern Ireland - Jobs - what the students say

Mark Irwin, from Belfast, is studying for a BA in drama at the University of Ulster, just outside Belfast. For the past 18 months, he has worked part-time in the Box Office of Belfast Opera House.

"My course gives me the theory of drama and theatre, but working in the box office lets you see very clearly how the practical side of it works. You get to see a bit of everything - from the preparations and the rehearsals backstage; the programme planning; right on down to the audience taking their seats and the curtain rising.

"The job doesn't pay terribly well - I started on about pounds 3.75 an hour - but it does increase over time and we do get given an allocation of tickets for the performances.

"The job itself involves taking telephone enquiries from the public and serving them face to face at the box office. The performances are usually quite large, with lots of West End shows transferring here: recently we've had the likes of Ben Elton's Popcorn and Lily Savage. We deal with all the bookings and seat arrangement, as well as looking after group bookings and those customers with special needs. We arrange signed performances for the deaf and audio-described performances for those with vision difficulties."

Chris Spence is studying for an MA in sociology at the University of Edinburgh. He works in a local bar, the Arnott Arms.

"Basically my job splits into two parts. Most of the year the pub runs as normal. I work for about 20 to 25 hours a week. I usually work 5pm till midnight a couple of nights through the week, and then sometimes a longer shift on a Saturday.

"We have quite regular customers - many of whom come in every night - so they like to see a familiar face serving them.

"The other half of the job is during the Festival. We're not a Fringe venue, but during that part of the year everything in Edinburgh goes a bit crazy. We often get a couple of comedians in each night and sometime a folk, blues or jazz band. This is the bit I organise.

"Everyone else is busy just keeping the bar stocked and the punters served, so for the past three years I've organised all the entertainments for the bar during August.

"It's just as well I'm on holiday from uni then, but it helps with the money.

"I end up earning about pounds 250 a week in summer, whereas the rest of the year my shifts make me about pounds 90 at the most."

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