Working Through School


As I have written before, I was at university for 6 years (5 years for an undergraduate degree, and 1 year for teachers college). My parents helped me as much as they could, and I tried to save before going, but I always knew I would need to work throughout school in order to pay tuition and expenses. I also wanted to keep my student loans on the low end (they’re still incredibly high, but I suppose not as high as they could have been). So, I worked throughout school.

I had two jobs in the summers, at a department store and a rental store. Neither was glamorous, but they were jobs and they were steady. I worked 7 days a week most weeks every summer, one summer I even worked both jobs nearly every Saturday. It made summer long and I didn’t have much time to enjoy it, but when I had afternoon or evening shifts I would spend time by my parents’ pool and try to relax as much as I could. They were fairly easy jobs, and I didn’t have to do any extra work after hours, so when I had time off, I was able to have a little fun. I was able to request a transfer at the department store so I could continue working in the city my university was in during the school year and then transfer back for the summer. This was nice, because I always knew I had a job for the entire year, and I never needed to train for a new job.

During the summer between finishing my B.A. and going to teachers college, the department store closed all its stores and I had to find a new job. I was incredibly lucky because I basically fell into two new jobs. I chose to stay in my university city because I had both opportunities, and would be guaranteed more work than if I were to go home and work in the rental store. The banker’s sister was working at a cheese shop every now and then when they needed an extra hand, and when they said they needed someone for weekends in the summer, she suggested I apply, and I started almost immediately. As for the organization that I continue to work for now in programs for children with Autism, I was incredibly lucky as well. I knew a woman who worked for the organization, through a special needs program I coordinated in my senior year, and she brought the information for a summer camp to the program one week. I applied, and started working for the camp at the end of June.

Needless to say, I was busy (and exhausted) after working those jobs 7-8 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 weeks! Once teachers college started, I kept working weekends at the cheese shop, but the other organization didn’t run anything at that time. About a month into school programs began, and I applied. During teachers college I only worked once a week for this organization. I had a pretty heavy workload that year, but I was used to working 4 or 5 days a week, so I was able to keep everything straight.

I know it sounds like a lot, but I wouldn’t change anything, not for one year. While some years I didn’t do as well academically as I had hoped, I don’t blame work for that. (I may have enjoyed a few nights out with friends, and spent far too many hours watching MTV.) Being busy forced me to use my spare time wisely, and taught me a lot about time management. I do think that it made me a better person and employee. It also allowed me to keep OSAP as low as possible, shop a little bit, enjoy my time at university, and not have to rely on my parents to bail me out (although, I will admit they helped me out more than a couple of times).

How did you make it through school? Was summer employment your thing, or did you work through your school year as well?



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