‘It’s a balancing act’

It is generally beneficial to take on a part-time job but it is important to make sure you do not have too much on your plate.Charis

WHETHER to hold part-time jobs while pursuing their studies has become a common dilemma among tertiary students.

While being a working student has its benefits, it’s important to know how much you can handle.

As a student, I have worked several part-time jobs intermittently. Right after sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and to fill the spare time I had before pursuing my foundation studies, I worked as a cashier at a wholesale mart.

The place was within walking distance from my house so I usually spent 10 minutes walking to the mart, saving up on transportation cost. That was my first job and it was an eye-opening experience. I learnt how to operate the cash register, manage different transactions, as well as complete the settlement report at the end of the day.

Aside from the basic duties, I learnt how to receive inventory from suppliers that supplied daily products such as bread and ice cream.

Being a cashier meant having to face various customers and it was a given that there would always be difficult customers to deal with. After almost two months, I decided to take a break due to my anxiety at coping with the social aspect of the job.

When a few months had passed, I started working at my aunt’s shop, also as a cashier. I enrolled in college a short while after working there but could continue with the job as my first semester was conducted fully online due to the standard operating procedure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I also had an easy work schedule since I was working with my aunt, making it a more bearable experience than the previous one.

By the time my first semester ended, I had to quit my job and move out from my home in Negri Sembilan to live in Kuala Lumpur as I had physical classes alongside online ones for my second semester. While I adjusted to my life as a college student, I took on a remote freelance translation job which paid about RM10 per article.

My role consisted of translating text from Mandarin to the English language. It was a convenient job as I could work on a piece anywhere, anytime as long as I had my phone or laptop with me.

However, it became tedious and draining for me after a while since I was facing the screen most of the time for both my college work and my freelance job.

I then stopped working and decided to focus on my studies, especially since I had physical examinations to prepare for.

In my third and final semesters, I focused more on my academics and socialising with my collegemates.

I subsequently attended dance training on campus throughout my semester break and my schedule was packed due to events and performances, so I did not take on any part-time job to avoid overworking myself.

While I had to live on a tighter budget, I was able to meet more people and even found a group of friends to whom I have since grown closer.

That was the highlight of my college life since I got to fully enjoy being a student and have fun with my friends.

Upon starting my degree programme after a satisfying end to my foundation year, I decided to work again. Since my first semester was short and I only had two subjects to study for, I thought it would be a golden opportunity to do job-hunting nearby.

Unfortunately, my job-hunting experience was not quite successful as I could not find a vacancy with flexible working hours.

In the end, I went back to working for my aunt, which saw me commuting to Negri Sembilan from Kuala Lumpur during the weekends or public holidays for the job.

There were ups and downs throughout my journey of juggling work and studies. There were many times in which I was exhausted and burnt out. I felt left out whenever I saw my friends hanging out while I was stuck at work.

On the other side, I have gained financial independence and am funding my living expenses, also thanks to the scholarship I won. This helped to relieve my parents’ financial burden.

I’m still in my first year of undergraduate studies and will attempt to look for a suitable part-time job in KL again.

Thanks to my various jobs, I had gained real-life work experience and knowledge. I also learnt the importance of observing discipline and following workplace guidelines.

To other tertiary students like me who are contemplating looking for a part-time job, all I can say is it is generally beneficial to take on one but it is important to make sure you do not have too much on your plate.

Take some time to sort out your responsibilities and priorities, and weigh the pros and cons. Avoid overworking yourself to the point of burnout and always ensure that you do not let anything affect your academics or mental well-being.

Charis, 20, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For more information, go to facebook.com/niebrats.Now that you have read the article, test your understanding by carrying out the following English language activities.

new NiE logonew NiE logo

1 What are three part-time jobs you would consider taking on? Why?

Discuss with your activity partner.

2 Charis mentioned in her article that she would be looking for a part-time job in KL.

Imagine you were tasked with interviewing her for a role.

What questions would you ask her and how do you think she would respond to the questions? Practise role-paying the interview with your partner.

The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme promotes the use of English language in primary and secondary schools nationwide. For Star-NiE enquiries, email starnie@thestar.com.my.

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