Working while being a full time student is a drag. It’s hard enough to try to balance four classes, your raging hormones and a social life. Add a job to all of that and chaos becomes the new norm. When the rent is due, and you want to go out to play beer bingo, and you need to put gas in your car to get up to the campus in the sky, it is absolutely necessary to have some sort of financial income.
Throughout my college career I worked at a few different places. I started out at a local pack-and-ship my sophomore year and quickly learned how difficult it was to manage intro-level communications classes, a carefree party-girl lifestyle and still have energy left over to deal with the United States Postal Service. However, there are perks that come along with working a day job while in college. First, you are free from the blue-collar shackles after 6 p.m. Yes, that’s right, you and your paycheck can go out on the town and enjoy a few drinks, only to remember that the first draft of your Senior Seminar paper is due in less than 12 hours. Another perk is that most of these day jobs are willing to work with your hectic daytime schedule. At what other time in your life can you insist that you make up your own sporadic part-time hours? This flexible schedule allows you to experience freedom in the workplace and keeps your mind from becoming bored by scheduled routine – at least in my experience.
Ah, and now the downfall of being a full-time student working a dayjob. For starters, the work schedule can take away from classroom hours. Teachers have limited office hours and availability during the day. Its very unlikely, even at friendly Fort Lewis, that your teacher will immediately respond to a frantic email sent at 10 p.m. Having more free time during the day allows students to take advantage of all 55 minutes of class time and office hours, if need be.
So what is the solution to avoid working a day job in college? The service industry. A world where the day begins at 4 p.m.
After working at the pack-and-ship and keeping myself busy with various Work-Study jobs on campus, I realized that I was making work my priority instead of school. In an effort to straighten out my schedule and give myself more time to dedicate to classes, I decided it would be reasonable to work at a restaurant. And to the Red Snapper I went. Seeing that I had never worked in a restaurant before, I realized that I could not immediately start serving and collecting tips, which my shy self was completely OK with. I started working as the hostess five nights a week. My shift started at 4 p.m. and usually finished by 8 p.m. providing me plenty of time after to finish up any homework that I had.
After settling into my new schedule, I realized there was more time during the day to pay attention to school. I no longer had to juggle daytime classes and a daytime job and worry about how I was going to be on time while bouncing between both. The restaurant allowed me, and many other students, to separate one day into two separate halves. The first half included school, studying, paper writing, reading, asking questions, etc. And the second half included passing out menus, greeting customers and setting tables. After all of the practice I got while greeting and conversing with customers, I realized that I no longer shook when giving a presentation in front of the class, a hidden perk. Another GIANT benefit of working at a restaurant while in college is that you get a shift meal! Five free meals a week, a paycheck and some social interaction outside of the classroom. Is this really work?!
During my student days, the restaurant provided a way for me to make money, have a set schedule and set aside time for my studies. And now, out of school, it allows me the freedom to try different jobs during the day and still make money in the evenings. Students, regardless of where you decide to work, keep in mind that the service industry may provide you the schedule needed to succeed in the classroom and stay financially afloat.
Taylor Ferraro provides five-star service and entertainment at the Red Snapper. She is also a massage therapist and KDUR DJ. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.