Like most freshers, I didn’t work during my first year of university. I applied for a few on-campus jobs but heard nothing back, and considering the low price of living in halls I floated through the year pretty easily. But with second year came rent, household bills and gym membership (which you will never use but pay anyway), so it was time to start looking for a job off campus!
The benefits are better than you’d think
I ended up landing a job at Tesco in Kenilworth, and I have a few friends who work across Leamington in various shops and cafes. Unlike on-campus jobs, this is able to fund me through summer. There are no limitations to when you can work, and this opens up the potential for earning more (assuming you have the time and the accommodation).
Having a term-time only job means that when I have the most time, I don’t have a job. Like most students, I generate most of my wages during Christmas/Easter holidays and over summer break, and off campus jobs allow that.
The distance from campus can be an issue, especially when you consider the cost of travel. But if you’re a second year, it’s probably more appropriate to have an off campus job in Leamington, as it will be closer to your house. Working has also helped me become and remain pro-active, keeping me in the right mind-set for studying.
Things to keep in mind before you commit
However, it can be difficult manage everyone’s demands on your time when you work off campus. Hours for part-timers tend to fall on Fridays and Saturdays, the most social nights of the week for a lot of students. But if you’re willing to sacrifice these nights you could be earning a lot of money and still have time for the midweek mayhem of Pop!.
The most common problems people have with off campus jobs is the inflexibility and distance from campus, especially if you’re a first year. Organising your work hours around uni is not always possible with outside companies, which is an advantage of working with the uni.
Remember, education comes first
Luckily, as soon as I started working at Tescos I sat down with my manager and had a conversation about how education comes first, which went well. Since then, I have had to rearrange my hours, reduce them and move the days I work, all of which he has done gladly. Of course I can’t ensure you’ll have a manager who is so willing to be flexible, but most of the time being honest about your commitment to your studies is the best way to approach it.
Ultimately, the main reason I chose an off campus job was to escape the Warwick bubble. No Warwick student can be completely oblivious to this term. Studying at a campus uni makes this type of life almost inevitable, but at Warwick it can seem particularly pronounced.
Working away from this allows me to connect with the real world, meet new people and interact with other parts of society. It keeps my life diverse and interesting. Although it may not be for everyone, if you’re willing to put in the time and be firm about what you need, you’re sure to have a great time working off campus.
Would you work off campus? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Photo: Gordon Joly / Flickr