Life, Employment, and Societies
Should I try to find employment during my studies?
Is joining a cool society the more desirable option?
Or should I solely focus on my course and social life?
These will be some of the questions you may end up asking yourself once you have enrolled at university, and they are good questions to be asking. As a recent graduate now trying to find employment in the ‘real world’ (yes, it is as scary as they say), I can only speak from my own personal experience, and the experience of those around me during my three years of my degree.
Personally, I found myself joining some of societies at the students union. These included the Student Cinema, Radio and Newspaper societies, along with a writing society and helping to establish the Anime Society. As the writing society only lasted a few months, and I moved on from the Cinema and Anime Society after my first year, I will mainly be referring to my time with the Radio Station and the Newspaper, as I was an active member of these for the majority of my studies.
What I’m going to say off the bat is that there is much more that I wish I did as far as societies were concerned. Whichever university you attend, there will be a plethora of societies, and if you become deeply engrained in one or two, you may end up excluding yourself from other activates which you regret later on. I still wish I had joined the D&D Society, and tried my hand at Archery. University really is a unique experience, and you’ll rarely have the opportunities that you do whilst you’re a student, so to this end I can’t urge students to try out new sports and societies enough.
All this, of course, is not to say I wish I hadn’t been as involved in the societies as I was. I spent two and a half years with the Newspaper and the Radio, and through them I have had amazing experiences, met some fantastic friends, and it practically shaped my entire university life. The Radio Station especially was where I found my home away from home away from home. I spent two amazing years just doing shows and helping the station with events, before I became the Head of News and helped to shape the station for a year. Doing this work with the students union has been richly awarding, but now all is said and graduated, was it the right decision.
The big thing is, I have no previous paid employment, meaning I can only list my volunteering activities that I did at the union. And of course, it does help more than not having it on there, but I can only believe that I would have been much better off if I had sought our employment.
When it comes to getting a job during the course of your studies, there are two options. To get a job outside of university, or to get one inside. I’ve had friends who have done both, and each has their pros and cons. An external job may pay better, and it gives you a much more real experience which you can take with you into further employment, but it does distance you from your university friends, and you may have to miss some important social outings because of it.
Alternatively, you can source a job inside the university, perhaps working on the student bar or shop. This has the advantage of you working with other students, being close to the campus, and being able to more easily schedule work around your studies. Of course, the downside here is that it is much safer than a job outside of the university. It will in no way reflect negatively, but compared with a person with real outside experience, you may find yourself fighting to survive. Also, working in a student bar may mean getting yourself acquainted with cleaning up various bodily expulsions, which is less than desirable.
Of course, you could decide that you don’t want to join societies and you don’t want to find a job, instead putting your effort into drinking, studying and more drinking (responsibly, of course). Although this may give you a first class honours degree by the end, along with a first class hangover, without any experience whatsoever, you will struggle.
So between joining societies, getting a job, and doing neither, which is the best to go with? Well, that is somewhat based upon your own previous experience. If you have a wealth of past employment, then feel free to party all day and study all night, or to spend three years trying out as many new experiences as you can. If, however, you’re in the same boat as I was, then the best course of action (in my opinion) would be to find work with your university, and focus on a couple of societies that really take your interest. You can still make time for your studies and a social life, whilst gaining new experiences and building up a fantastic CV for when you graduate.