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Practical Advice for Working Part Time in College

For those beginning their third level journey, there can be many factors to worry about: a new environment, homesickness, and the crushing weight of having 9 am classes five days a week. Many will have to balance these new experiences with another potential source of stress: a part-time job. With rent prices soaring, and student accommodation costing up to €9,000 a year and beyond, more and more students have no choice but to search for an extra source of income.

So, whether you need one to pay the bills, or to earn some extra spending money, here’s some practical advice about working part-time while in college.

Above all know your rights.

If you’re 18 and starting employment, the minimum wage is currently €9.55 per hour, but that will be going up to €9.80 next year thanks to the latest budget. If you’re 16 or 17 the minimum wage you’re currently entitled to be €6.69 per hour, which is 70% of the minimum wage. Keep in mind that if you plan on working in a place that accepts tips, that the law doesn’t specifically entitle you to those tips- it depends on the management and the practices in place. However, by law, you are also not obliged to hand over any tips you get to your employer. Make sure to work out the lay of the land before you begin to see how the tipping culture works. Most jobs are required to provide new staff with the rules and regulations of their place of employment- make sure you actually read it.

Location, location, location.

So you’ve found a job you’d like and you’re happy with the pay – the next thing to look out for is how far away your place of employment is from where you’ll be living. If you have to travel a long way to get to work several times a week, the costs of commuting will eat into your wages, leaving little for you to live on. Not to mention that a long, frequent commute to work can really affect your study time. If you find yourself spending more money to get to work than you earn in work, perhaps it’s time to look somewhere a little closer.

Tell it like it is.

Be upfront with your employer from the start. Let your boss know the hours you want to work during the college term time, and that you’ll need the flexibility to study for exams, or to go on work placements. There will be times when you will have to prioritise your studies ahead of your job, and an employer that fails to respect that in your first meeting could very likely create problems down the line.

Look after yourself- and don’t be afraid to put yourself first

Maintaining a work-study balance is possible, but only by putting your own wellbeing first. Don’t take extra shifts you don’t have time for because you’re afraid to say no. If you find your employer giving you more hours than you can handle, be honest and let them know. It is essential to take a break from both college and part-time work- make sure you leave room in your life for yourself.