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‘Experience essential’: The struggles of getting a job as a student

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As a student, soon to be paying for a house, I am in dire need of money. Sure, Student Finance provide loans for students and I luckily qualify for the highest payment which covers my rent as well as allowing me to have roughly £40 a week spare. But (like a huge number of students) I am also hopeless with money and this £40 a week doesn’t really get me very far. It has to be used to pay for essentials such as food and also things such as my phone bill and maintaining a social life. Furthermore, after being overzealous with money in my first year (especially during Freshers week!) I also have a £1000 overdraft, which I have to pay off by the end of my third year.

Due to this, I believe getting a part-time job as a student is crucial but there always seems to be one stumbling block between me applying for a job and actually getting it. Two words: ‘experience essential’ with bar jobs being particularly notorious for this.

Obviously, employers want their employees to be able to get to work straight away with no training and this is fair enough but potentially great workers are being turned away due to having no experience. Surely to gain experience, somebody must first take a chance on an inexperienced applicant or else it becomes a vicious circle of unemployment.

Another struggle I’ve faced when applying for jobs and something I’m generally opposed against are the questionnaires designed to gauge the applicant’s character. These usually are in the form of a number of statements followed by the multiple choice of: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. One particular statement that always seems to appear is ‘I have never told a lie.’ The obvious response to this statement to try and impress a prospective employer would be ‘strongly agree’ but surely then the employer would presume you to be lying and to claim you have never lied would be potentially worse than just admitting that you have. It just seems to me that the main purpose of these questionnaires is to trip people up.

As a budding journalist, I know that this is an industry where experience is essential but luckily there are some websites such as Yuppee that allow keen journalists to gain experience that will stand them in good stead for the future and I just wish regular employers would also take a chance on inexperienced but willing workers.

1 Comment
  • DF

    Finding a job is difficult for students, I agree. We’re normally in two different places throughout different parts of the year, and for people who have never had a job before, its probably harder again. How can you get experience when nobody will allow you to? However, you’re quite lucky you have that amount of money spare from your loan to go towards weekly essentials such as shopping (or like you said, your phone bill), as some of us don’t get anything, and others don’t even receive enough to cover their rent! I have to work two full days a week in an office to support myself while I study, which proves that flexible jobs are out there. You just need to start thinking differently; while a bar might not want you, a company which needs your writing/ICT skills (or others you’ve picked up whilst in education) might! If you look hard enough, you’ll find something. Good luck.

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