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Should I have a job during my final year of school?

By Simon Hennessy on 17 September 2019NSWblogUKblogGeneral

The final year of school can be a funny time to figure out. You’ve never felt older or more independent, but with major exams and uni applications to deal with, your school commitments have never been more important or demanding. This can lead to confusion over just how much you can take on outside of school – including whether or not a part-time job is a good idea or not.

So is it? The answer is … maybe. We’ve laid out five conditions that, if your job fits, makes earning that extra bit of cash on the side the way to go. If not though, it’s time to jump ship.

1. It’s not time-consuming

Kind of obvious this one, but worth mentioning. You’re in school nearly all day Monday to Friday, and outside of that, you need time for homework and revision. That’s before we even start thinking about activities and social life – two things that will be key to staying sane throughout the stress of your final year.

If you have a few hours to spare once all those concerns are taken care of, by all means, take that job working Saturday mornings at the local cafe. But if you have to work on Sundays and after school all week, don’t go there. Studying and staying fit and happy are the first priorities; any job has to fit in around those, or not at all.

2. Doesn’t tire you out

Most part-time work will require you to be on your feet somehow – whether that’s waiting tables, working in a retail shop, or doing a paper round on your bike. Which is fine, unless you get home from work and have to spend the rest of the weekend lying on the couch in a semi-coma just to recover in time for school on Monday.

This, of course, might not be you at all. But if it is, time to be honest with yourself. If your job is draining you of all your energy, it just is not worth having at such a critical stage of the game school-wise. There’s always the summer to wear yourself out for some pocket money, but now – with exams and assignments coming thick and fast – is not the time.

3. Your employers know the deal

Being on the same page as your employers is an absolute must. If they think that you can be called in at any moment, that working for them is your number one priority or worst of all, that school is part of your distant past, then I’m sorry to say you’re racing towards a red light.

Make it clear from before you start any job: schoolwork has got to come before the job. If a big exam is coming up, or a major assignment needs to be completed, you will not be around. Most jobs will have hired students in their final year before and will know the situation, but it’s still super important to make sure that everyone’s on the same page with regards to what you can and cannot do.

4. You can quit if you need to

Sometimes, you’ll find a job that is all of the above and is fitting in perfectly with your schedule. But the assignments might start piling up, exams appear on the horizon, everything just becomes too much. At this point, quitting, and quitting straight away, has got to be an option on the table.

Just to be clear, we’re not suggesting going to an interview and saying “looks great, but just to let you know, I’m gonna be quitting in about two months.” Obviously not. But making sure that you have that out if you need it is key because if you don’t, you’ll be in real trouble. Some jobs can’t accept someone leaving on short notice, which is totally fine. Just make sure they’re the ones you’re avoiding.

5. You like it

At the end of the day, none of the other ones matter if you don’t like what you do. Seriously. You might think that work is just about getting money, and that’s, of course, the main goal. But getting on with the people you work with, taking satisfaction from your performance, feeling motivated to actually get up and go to work – if you haven’t got these, you’ll just be miserable, no matter how well it pays off. The only jobs worth doing, whether that be part-time in your final year or full time when you’re 40, are the ones you enjoy.

Remember

Having a part-time job in your final year can be a great way to save up for your summer, build your CV and independence, and even meet great people and grow as a person. Just make sure that it fits these five conditions, or else it’s not worth the cost.

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