You know it’s time to grow up when society is pressing you to find a job. There’s the gradual realisation that the inevitable switch from academic life to the working world is fast approaching. For some, there’s also the awareness that the financial support which parents offer may no longer be enough to cover the costs that come with being a student.
To make this transition a little easier, Perdeby has provided you with several factors to keep in mind when considering the possibility of part-time employment.
Hatfield, being a metropolitan area and a major student hub, leads students to think that there’s a job waiting at every corner. Although this idea may not be entirely untrue, the question remains: which of these jobs are a viable option?
Of the 100 students Perdeby surveyed, 42 said that they currently have part-time jobs while 21 of the other 58 students said that they only have jobs during the holidays.
Certain students find studying to be overwhelming enough, but for others, the pressure of balancing studies and work is a familiar concept. Aimee Clarke, a third-year publishing student, has had numerous jobs which include private tutoring for primary school children, general office work, babysitting and house-sitting.
Clarke says, “I feel exploited because of the irregularity at which I’m paid by parents [for tutoring their kids] and when a child does not attend a session without any notification. It seems like some employers believe that students have a lot of free time which isn’t the case because sometimes you may even have to miss classes to work.”
According to the China-India Labour Market Research Design Conference of 2007, “informal employment [like babysitting or tutoring] is, on average, precarious, low-paid, and risky.” This is in contrast to employment offered by registered companies or organisations once you’ve graduated.
Hiring part-time employees is an economical decision for many companies, as part-time workers are entitled to fewer benefits than full-time workers. For this reason, students are ideal candidates for part-time employment because of their need for a flexible work schedule.
Issues of payment are one of the main concerns for working students. Sophie Mbanda, a third-year BA Law student, used to waitress at TriBeCa Coffee in Lynnwood Ridge. She says, “There was the initial training which lasted for three weeks and not one as originally specified by them. This was a problem because you don’t get paid during training. Sometimes, what the employers promise and what happens are two different things.” Mbanda left TriBeCa after three weeks of training and one week of working there as a trained employee.
Promotions are another popular line of work among students. The upside to promotional work is that payment is much better than other jobs such as bartending. The average promotion worker will earn R80 per hour, which is a big improvement on other rates such as the R12.50 an hour paid by the local Springboks Bar in Hatfield.
Tumisang Sithole, a third-year BA Information Design student, is fortunate enough to find casual jobs related to his field of study. The experience gained is likely to benefit him and others in the same situation as it can lead to job opportunities later in life. Future employers may value any kind of small experience in a working environment in addition to your studies.
Another advantage of part-time employment is that it “reduces the likelihood of post-school unemployment, and in some instances, the students are more likely to earn slightly higher hourly wages,” according to the 2010 Australian Journal of Career Development.
Students could also tutor at Tuks to complement their field of study. The amount of money you’re paid increases in proportion to your year of study. Human Resources of the Faculty of Humanities states the rates as R41 per hour for first- and second-year tutors, R53 per hour for third-year students and R61 per hour for fourth-year and postgraduate students. These are the average rates for all departments on campus. An obvious advantage of working on campus is the convenience it offers.
The Student Career Centre on campus agrees that students are often on the hunt for part-time employment. The centre offers the opportunity for students seeking jobs on campus to give in their names and contact details which are then entered into a database. These people then receive an email notification when a faculty has a position open.
Sandile Magagula, who works at the centre, explains that, “The rate at which the students are paid can depend on the type of work done and whether a student is an undergraduate or a postgraduate.”
However, university policy states that student employees can only work for a fixed number of hours. Magagula explains that the reasoning behind this is to control how much of the university’s money is spent on providing student labour.
There is no denying that there are advantages to being employed part-time but possible negative effects (such as a decline in academic performance) are also important factors to consider. The decision to work while studying remains a personal one, but keep in mind that time management and organisational skills are essential to make the experience worthwhile.
Ilustration: Talifhani Mathode