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Let’s Talk About Work

By Aoife Holohan

The semester is well under way, and it may have dawned on you that if you don’t want to eat pesto pasta and reconstituted meat products for the next nine months, you might want to think about getting out there and finding yourself a job. Middelburg has plenty to offer if menial labour is your thing, and let’s be honest, at our age and social standing; menial labour has to be our thing. Plenty of students are working around town, but what’s the price they pay for taking on extra work, and is it worth it? I talked with some of the employed among us to find out how a part time job really affects them.

UCR isn’t exactly usual in what it expects from its students. Video lectures from the comfort of our own beds isn’t an option, and we’re expected to not only be present but participatory in class. Working adds a lot more hours to the week in which we need to be alert and focused. The students I spoke with, however, seemed to think it’s perfectly manageable as long as you don’t go overboard. “Some people are on committee boards, I work. As long as you don’t do a shift every night of the week, it’s very doable. I think two shifts is probably perfect”. So, it seems our grades won’t suffer but what about our social lives? Most of us work at bars and restaurants, meaning late shifts that coincide with hangouts or events, but again they say realistically it’s not such an issue “its really just time I would have been at home watching Netflix anyway”.

I wanted to know how much are students thought their time was worth. The seemingly radically unfair payment system for youths perplexed me. In the Netherlands, at age 19 you are only entitled to €5.23 an hour, fast-forward five years and you earn €9.95 for exactly the same work. Apparently not all employers follow this rule, however, and pay higher rates to younger staff, so before you say yes to the first position you get offered, shop around. You might find something with a better paycheck than you think. That being said, a student on €5 an hour still seemed to think that the money was worth her time. “Its definitely worth it, having that extra cash will pay for a holiday in winter break or for the Art History course in Rome I really want to do”.

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After talking with as many worker bees as I could find, the general consensus was “you won’t regret it, go for it”, so I decided it was time to take the experiment a step further and take the plunge myself. Finding a part-timer was easy, the first place I went to asked me back for a trial shift the very same night. And how did it go? It was a disaster. I found the boss a little bit more than a little bit sexually inappropriate, not to mention the number of homophobic remarks that were made within the space of four hours. Straight from the get go I didn’t enjoy the atmosphere and knew I would fill uncomfortable working there. Most of the staff were great, but I didn’t fancy the boss commenting on the length of my skirt every shift for the next year. At first I was going to take it anyway, telling myself jobs like these weren’t supposed to be fun but there’s a difference between feeling bored and feeling uncomfortable.

So, with that, the results are in – jobs seem to be definitely worth the effort for that extra pocket money, just don’t push yourself too hard, and make sure to look around and find something where you feel ok with your surroundings and its benefit to your bank account.

Aoife Holohan, Class of 2019, is an Arts and Humanities major from somewhere in Ireland you’ve never heard of. 

Featured Image Source: Flickr, Micadew

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