Tanya King is working at the guild at the University of Birmingham, having completed a three-year degree in psychology

"I SOON realised I would need to work not just to keep myself in luxury, but to earn enough to pay my basic living costs! My grant was taken up entirely by my rent, so I had to work to earn enough money to be able to buy books, eat and go out. I've never worked more than 16 hours a week, but there have been times when I've finished a 3am shift in a club and had to be in for lectures by 9am. It can get tiring.

"But it's been a really good way to meet people and I think it's given me experience of the world of work. All the jobs I've done I'll be able to put down on my CV, and I think employers now are looking for more skills than just a good degree. Working in the students' union I became senior assistant. Really it was management work, and it'll stand me in good stead. They were understanding about the demands of my course. Each week I filled out a slip to say which hours I could work so I could take time off if I had a special party to go to. You couldn't do that at a supermarket!"