A balancing act: societies vs part-time jobs

Trinity has a rich society life and while some students may dedicate their time to being involved, the reality is that some students also need a part-time job- how do students juggle that responsibility?

Being a student has never been as fulfilling, exhilarating, or pleasurable as it is in 2018, with a wealth of incredible opportunities afforded to those willing or able to advance to third level. Upon entering the towering walls of Trinity on the highly-anticipated Freshers’ Week, first years begin to sign up to their favoured societies and clubs, with most of them remaining in these communities for years to come.

The work that students do within societies is an important feature of college life, providing opportunities for friendship, personal development, and enhancement of critical skills. The range of social organisations that institutions like Trinity have to offer nowadays is remarkable, with every kind of sport you can think of, subject societies, and alternative interest societies such as debating or orchestra. Membership of these communities can take up a considerable amount of time and thus, student’s lives can easily become hectic 一 balancing these extra-curricular activities, academic work and for many, a part-time job.

“As many students may have to work up to 25 hours a week, life can very quickly become occupied by work shifts, lectures, last minute essays, committee meetings, and society events.”

According to a survey carried out by i-Reach Insights, it is estimated that seven out of ten students work a part-time job during their studies to fund necessities such as accommodation, food, and a healthy social life. As many students may have to work up to 25 hours per week, their lives can become occupied by work shifts, lectures, last-minute essays, committee meetings, and society events. As important as having a job and participating in clubs are, it is essential that one recognises that keeping up with their degree and attaining success in their course is undeniably crucial to their college experience and should be their foremost concern. Quite often, it is the quality of a student’s academic life that suffers when they become overloaded with too much work, events, and activities.

There are many valuable ways in which a young person can manage their part-time job while also enjoying Trinity’s vibrant social scene. Firstly, managing time and allowing full working days is absolutely critical. A busy student could ensure that they are making the best possible use out of their time by keeping a diary and scheduling all of their tasks. Although it is highly tempting from time to time to snooze your alarm clock and surrender back under the covers again, early mornings can be indispensable in balancing societal responsibilities with work. A fresh start early in the morning will allow a long and productive day ahead, ultimately reducing stress and work overload.

“Whether or not you are a committee member with your chosen society, ensure that tasks are delegated, and you are never doing more than you should be.”

Be careful that you know when enough is enough! This applies to both your part-time job, and club or society commitments. Whether or not you are a committee member with your chosen society, ensure that tasks are delegated appropriately, and that you are never doing more than you should be. If you are involved in more than one organisation, it’ll be highly unlikely that you’ll be able to attend every single event; good advice would be to say yes to only the best occasions. Likewise, aim to have a democratic relationship with your employer. Therefore, you will both be able to negotiate on suitable hours that will fit in with your college schedule.

It is also crucial to take a break every so often from everything including work, college, and campus life. If you do not live in Dublin, a weekend home could be the perfect solution or if you are a commuter, just simply a day to yourself to relax, explore the outdoors, or to do something you love can be significantly worthwhile. While trying to juggle both your job and societies, managing your mental health and stress levels is extremely important. The extent to which you successfully manage your academic coursework can be a huge factor in relieving pressure, so it is vital that this is something that is controlled well, to allow a rewarding and satisfying experience of society life.

Christine Cullen, an OCM in DU Dance, works weekends at a local hotel and claims it is “definitely possible to have a job and be involved in society life”. She believes that if you enjoy what you are doing, and the passion is there, you will find time to fit it into a busy schedule. Participating in the Dance society for Cullen is “usually the much needed down-time from work and study”. Speaking to Trinity News, she mentioned how dance classes are held on weekday evenings, similar to events of most societies, which is ideal as it saves the weekend for study and her job. Chairperson of the Archaeology Society, Stephen Smith, highly recommends getting involved saying “you will make more friends than just going to college”. Being involved has made him more aware and conscious of his time management, noting “it’s helped me prioritise”.

“Involvement in extracurricular activities during your degree can be a major asset for job opportunities and career prospects.”

For Roisin Doyle-Bakare, this year’s VDP panto producer, it is all about managing and planning your time, expectations, and priorities, saying “I always thought I could do everything at 100% capacity but have recently realised that was unrealistic”. She advised that it’s important to have practical expectations of what you can reasonably achieve within the week, particularly in sophister years when most courses grow more intense and there is a much heavier workload. She highly recommends planning ahead: “Use calendars, make to-do lists, and learn to properly manage your time and to really understand what it is you want out of college.”

It is important that you have a positive approach to managing the balance between earning money and becoming actively involved on campus. Keep reminding yourself of all the advantages that participation in your favourite clubs and societies will bring in the future; lifelong friends and colleagues, exemplary social and organisational skills, and a much more experienced and well-rounded graduate status for your resume. Involvement in extracurricular activities undertaken during your degree can be a major asset for job opportunities and career prospects. The welcoming levels of independence that having your own money can bring as a result of working part-time while studying is also pleasing. We must not forget, however, that the reality of the current Dublin housing market requires many students to put huge amounts of their hard-earned wages on extortionate rents around the city and in the suburbs. Students are being continuously required to co-fund suitable accommodation and their studies in an increasingly unjust economic system. As a result, this is having major negative repercussions for the quality and experience of third-level education for many.

University isn’t just about acquiring academic knowledge or completing a degree, it’s also about having the space to find yourself, to make mistakes and to make lifelong friends. Between managing time properly and prioritising the right things, there are numerous ways to healthily balance coursework and societal involvement as a student while having a part-time job.