Juggling and the value of a part time job

Anyone who knows me well will know that I am an incredibly busy person. Maybe even dangerously so. My gran says I’m not afraid of hard work. Everyone else calls me a workaholic. I’m not sure what label I’d put on myself. I only know that my brain is simply not cut out for university, and only the work I do there, to be my sole purpose of getting up in the morning. I need something else to occupy part of my days. Education can’t be my everything. I’d go insane if it was.

Because of this drive (can I call it that…?) I have always had at least one part time job alongside my studies. At the age of fourteen I began my first weekend job and by the time I reached my Alevels when I was seventeen/eighteen I still had that job and had acquired a second part time job whilst working full time almost every evening at my local theatre. Every second I wasn’t in a class room was packed with work to gain experience and earn some money to plan for the future.

You’re probably thinking I’m insane, right? But honestly I feel like a much better and more rounded person for it. If you need, or want, to get a job alongside uni then this might help you decide what’s best for you. You don’t have to go as mad as I did, and thankfully now I just have the one (almost) full time job, but maybe you might benefit from mulling this over.

Here are my tips for mastering the art of juggling.

I’m going to cast my mind back to my Alevels and give you a run down of my typical crazy day and how I managed to fit everything in.

  1. Wake up between 5.30am and 6.30am (depending on the day) to finish any homework or reading that needed to be done for college that day and have a decent breakfast because I’d crash and burn without it.
  2. 7.50am – catch the train to college and again do some college work. By the time I got to my station at 8.40am, if my train was running on time, I had already done up to 3 hours of class work/revision.
  3. Depending on the day I’d be at college till about lunchtime and come home to go to one of my two part time jobs for around 4 hours in the afternoon. Other days I’d be at college until 4pm and then go straight to my evening job. Either way I’d be doing classwork in my free lessons and on my train journeys home. This wasn’t all solid revision or essay writing either. It was doing a little bit at a time – just as much as I could stomach in one go until I’d got everything done.
  4. Work started in the evening at 6.30pm meaning I’d usually be there at 6pm if I’d eaten on the way or 5.30pm if I needed to take something with me. On any days I didn’t need to be at the theatre I’d be doing an evening shift, rather than a day time shift, at one of my two part time jobs. I was always at the theatre until about 10.30pm but my other jobs could see me being there until anywhere between midnight and 2am (on a really bad day)
  5. Then it was straight to bed and up again early the next day giving myself that extra hour in bed if it had been a particularly late night.

Ridiculous I know 😂 having said that almost every night I was getting between six and seven hours of sleep which was more than enough to keep me going and is more than I tend to get now even though I’m doing much less.

The trick is routine. If you try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, or at least within an hour of that, your body will get used to it and it will become a habit rather than a chore. The one thing I will say is there is nothing better than an afternoon power nap. If you’re able to, just twenty mins of completely switching off like that is perfect.

Now my days are much less hectic. My university hours mean that four days a week I’m only in the building for one hour and on a Wednesday I have four hours. That means I have until 6pm to work on my classes and have a nap if I need it before heading to my new theatre in the evening.

On that note, in the five years since I gained that first weekend job I have gained excellent time management skills and at the age of eighteen I moved to London with four years of invaluable, paid, experience that meant I could easily find a job in the city. We all know the struggle of not being able to be employed at a young age because we don’t have enough experience in anything let alone the correct field. By finding yourself a job you eliminate that problem and are able to produce a full CV earlier than a lot of other people. One of the questions I have been asked in every single interview without fail is “give me an example of a time you have dealt with a difficult situation.” The last thing they want, or need, to hear from you is that time you broke up a fight between two petty teenagers when you were a prefect at your secondary school (or high school for those who use that terminology). They want to hear how you worked with your colleagues as a team and dealt with over 1,000 angry patrons who were being sent home without seeing the West End production they had tickets to because there was a large-scale power cut in central London taking out half of the West End. They want to hear how you dealt with an angry drunk man getting violent and disrupting the production. They want to hear how you dealt with a show stop and had to keep over 1,000 people happy when the show stopped for over an hour due to a technical difficulty.

The most important thing I have to say to you is you have to make your own opportunities. You have to go out and find yourself a job. You have to make the effort to print out and personally take your CV to wherever you want to apply. You have to make the effort to follow up those CV drops with emails (if you can) to show your potential future employer how interested and meticulous you are. You have to keep working at this, through all of the rejections and all the hard graft, until you get what you want.

I love my job and I have enjoyed all of my previous jobs. Despite the effort of fitting all the hours around my studies there’s no way I would be where I am today in London without it. It has been worth every second for me and it will be worth it for you too. I promise.

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