Mini Reflections from Working Part-Time Whilst Studying

Part-time jobs have taken up a fair amount of time during my undergraduate years, especially during my second year.

Some of my experiences include being a cashier at Kimiko (a Japanese fast-food outlet located in the Junior Common Room of Imperial’s Sherfield Building), serving as a student ambassador under the President’s Ambassador scheme, representing the Department of Life Sciences as a student tour guide during Open Days, participating in the College’s ask-a-student scheme (called UniBuddy), as well as being a student blogger at the point of writing!

Juggling all these in addition to attending Imperial as a full-time student is definitely a mini-challenge by itself (because let’s face it, student life here can be really intense at times). However, I still believe it is fair for me to say these jobs have presented a bunch of transferable skills and learning takeaways that extend beyond the classroom (or technically, lecture hall) environment. And I thought I’d share them with you guys!

What I’ve gained from these experiences

Aside from the obvious perks of being able to earn some pocket money, which is most probably the first thing that crosses your mind, I reckon it might be much more interesting to highlight some of the non-monetary incentives that come along with dedicating some of your time to part-time work.

It’s a chance for you to break out of your shell

I generally am a person who tends to get super nervous whenever I have to meet new people. If you happen to consider yourself a shy person, perhaps you could relate to the fear of looking silly, boring, or unimpressionable in front of those with whom you are hoping to establish a good connection.

I am definitely no stranger to that, but I realised how important it is for me to develop the courage to put myself out there as well as interact with lots of people that I wouldn’t usually speak to – because if you think about it, you’ll need that in the near future, whether it is for a job interview, a networking event, a business pitch, or simply, to make new friends.

Hence, as all of the part-time jobs I’ve taken up are generally people-facing roles, it had been an excellent opportunity for me to gain confidence in public speaking. For instance, my President’s Ambassador role allowed me to lead large group tours around the College and help out with greeting guests during university events. I also got to be a student panelist twice during the Imperial360 Live Virtual Open Day, where I took part in answering general questions regarding student life and my degree programme to an audience size of 500+ people.

You’ll be better at “crisis” management

On top of that, these roles have also pushed me to become better at thinking on the spot, as I had to constantly come up with ways to ensure the prospective students and their parents remain fully engaged in the middle of College tours. In addition to that, it also helped me to deliver good answers to relatively tough questions posed by audiences during panel events.

Meanwhile, my quick problem-solving skills were also put to the test (to a certain extent), where I do occasionally encounter technical issues whilst managing the cashier booth at Kimiko. In essence, I learned to keep my cool and resolve problems as soon as I could in order to minimize the waiting time for customers to pay.

(Counter-intuitively) Your time management will improve

I won’t deny it – attending lectures, trying to get coursework done properly, doing a part-time job, maintaining a social life, getting enough sleep, and making time for yourself equates to a packed schedule.

Though the funny thing which happened to me was that – I actually became more organised and efficient with my time, as opposed to procrastinating a lot in the past even though I had relatively fewer tasks to complete (maybe the Parkinson’s Law was right after all). I guess this goes on to show that working part-time has helped me learn to plan ahead as part of making sure that I can fit all my commitments into the finite time that everyone has.

But of course, it is always important for you to bear in mind that – just like consuming alcohol, you’ll need to know your work limits and not put too many things on your plate so that you won’t burn out!

It’s actually a lot of fun!

Who would have thought that operating two cashiers and serving two different customers at once is entirely possible? I certainly didn’t, not at least until I started working at Kimiko.

One of the memorable experiences that I’ve had working part-time was when my supervisor at Kimiko decided to give me this fun challenge. In fact, to directly quote him, he said this is “the perfect way to help anyone stay awake in such as monotonous task”.

It was indeed – because five minutes after he mentioned that, I was practically living the fast-food restaurant version of “Fast and Furious” as the queue for payments gets crazy long during lunch hours (sometimes even extending beyond the Junior Common Room!). But I digress, it was actually a pretty fun ride!

On a different note, I also got the chance to hype up the popular curly fries that 568 (in Beit Hall) used to offer back then to all of the tour groups which I led as a President’s Ambassador. And seeing them telling me that they’ll head straight to Beit Hall to try them out right after the tour… that’s a mini win for me 😊

You could get freebies and perks (if you’re lucky!)

I would say that getting freebies and perks are something that really depends on the type of work you’ll be doing and who you are working with, though my supervisor at Kimiko was very kind to offer me a free meal every time I completed a shift back then (and even mochi ice cream as a birthday present), so those were fond memories of my part-time work experience.

Plus, I also got to enjoy some free refreshments during certain university events along with the new friends I’ve made when working as a President’s Ambassador.

A final note

All in all, I hope that these snippets and stories have given you a better insight into what part-time jobs can bring to you. So, if you are considering taking up that part-time job you’ve been thinking about, I would say – do give it a go, as you’ll never know what adventure lies ahead of you!

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