Saturday, 15 July 2017

Reflection on juggling a job and third year

Recently, i've been going round and round in circles, trying to figure out whether it is worth keeping this job throughout fourth year. I have just finished third year and as the intensity of fourth year dawns upon me, I am weighing it all up.

When I first started working at Waitrose in November 2015, I don't think I envisaged keeping the job throughout my third year. Knowing full well, I would be on placement and unsure of how structured the timetable would be (but imagining 0800-2000 shifts ha ha!), I blindly just thought i'll see how it goes.

When I first received my timetable, it was clear that I couldn't work 1200-2000 every Wednesday like I had been before. I needed to reduce my hours.

For the first two months, I only worked on Sundays. This was not strictly allowed - the rules were, you had to work at least 2 days a week. So eventually they put my Wednesday shift back in, but halved the hours so it was now just from 1600-2000. I managed to keep this up all year. I rang in sick a few times after some big party weekends, but for the most part, I just kept pulling through it.

 I would always leave early on a Wednesday, i'd drive to placement so that I could drive straight to work from there, making my excuses about "doctors appointments" or whatever. Tutors and doctors never really raised an eyebrow; colleagues knew the score. I got sufficient study leave when I asked for it, even if it was a bit stressful to arrange and so I just managed. Can I continue to "just manage" throughout fourth year? Is it worth it?

I got the job initially because financially, I was struggling. My parents were in the middle of an expensive divorce and paying extortionate lawyer fees, so weren't able to support me as much as they had been. It was incredibly stressful managing being so broke and in fact I distinctly remember it was when I broke down in tears after my card was declined for a £3 purchase in Sainsburys, I knew I had to do something. Being broke was becoming detrimental to my mental health. I got a job fairly quickly and enjoyed the luxury of being financially liberated again. I never worried about my finances again.

Since then, things are very different. The divorce is officially over. I am a year closer to graduating and my mum can financially support me better. It no longer feels like I need this job to survive financially. Fourth year is notorious for being the most difficult year of the whole degree. It will involve longer hours, double the exams, travelling further and wider, it's going to be fast and fucking furious. Should I continue to juggle a job I know I don't need?

1. Would it be possible in terms of time management?
Probably. Waitrose have always been very accommodating, particularly around exam time and i'm sure I could manage. I could get trained doing other things, have my shifts at other time. It might be a bit stressful arranging around two osce seasons, a 4-week GP placement away from manchester and the progress tests though.

2. Do I even enjoy work?
Yes, I do. I love the girls, I love working behind the bakery counter. That being said, I do feel like things are going downhill there and i'm not sure for how much longer i will enjoy it. People are leaving left right and centre.

3. Is it worth the pay?
I am the last cohort to get paid time-and-a-half on Sunday and as I work every Sunday, that is the main reason it is worth it.

I just got off the the phone to my mum and she said something which probably cleared the decision for me. The question needs to change from being "Could I manage" to, "Is it worth managing". Say yes, I could probably manage to keep juggling my part time job with everything else. Is it worth it though? Is it worth the stress? Is it worth missing out on being an actual student and having a student lifestyle? (No-one ever looks back on their deathbed, and says they wish they worked for longer hours). Is it worth jeopardising my degree? Is it worth the energy it takes? And finally, there you have it. No, during fourth year, it wouldn't. It would stop being worth it, but heck, I really will miss it.

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