Claire Nelson encourages everyone to get to work.

This year marks my third year at St Andrews as well as my third job in St Andrews. I have stuck with bartending as my profession of choice. I was offered my first student job a year back while on a night out, and before I knew it I was serving up messy bombs and Sourz shots to freshers and locals three nights a week. It turns out that bartending is not a very glamorous job; in fact a lot of it is actually cleaning. Pretty much all of it, really. If you can lean, you can clean! So that was a valuable life skill for me to learn. The fridge doors will be sticky no more.


A lot of people say that they don’t have time for a part-time job, and I suppose this is true for some. A lot of the jobs here can be really flexible however, one of my previous jobs was willing to give me the three hour lunch shift five days a week so that I could wake up, go to work and then to class, and still have the mornings and the evenings to myself. No late nights and a good way to get to class already alert and clear-headed. Unless you’re a science student and in lab (and yet I still know a fair amount of employed science students) what are you doing with all of your free time, really? If I didn’t have a job, I would probably be playing COD.


All three of my bar jobs have overlapped with waitressing, and that has given me considerable insight and sympathy for anyone who works in the service industry. I have much more patience now for a waiter who comes back to double check an order or food taking a little longer than I’d like to arrive. Restaurants get hectic very quickly, and you have to be constantly aware of what stage each table is at in their meal without being overbearing. It is so easy to get caught up in the rush and forget to be timely enough at bringing round the card machine that I can no longer be anything but polite when the waiting staff gets backed up. Working in the service industry means keeping that smile hitched in place even when the customer becomes rude or patronizing, and as someone with a relatively short fuse for rudeness this is a struggle for me. I have a lot of respect for anyone who is a full time member of the service industry as it is not an easy job to do. I’m fairly certain that if everyone were required to take up some sort of low level hospitality job for at least a few months, the world would be a much more polite place.


As an Arts student, I value my job for its introduction of structure to my week. I have four hours of class a week, which is not to say that the rest is free time. Yet developing a work schedule takes a considerable amount of self-control and efficient time management, both of which are skills I am still working on improving. Having a job provides a veritable reason to get up and out of the house – getting fired is a pretty good incentive to go make something of your day. And once I have 15-20 hours in the week blocked out for work, my free time becomes a lot more valuable. I’m more productive when I do academic work, because I know that I have work that night so my translation has to be done before 9PM.


I am also very appreciative of the additional social circle that a part-time job brings. It’s a great way to meet new people, and nothing says bonding time like cleaning up at the end of the night and laughing (and sometimes grimacing) at the kind of things St Andrews patrons have left behind. Recent examples include a pair of panties on the dance floor (someone got lucky); a urine soaked pineapple in the bathroom (not so lucky); and of course, chunder, anywhere and everywhere. Some of my closest friends at St Andrews are people who I have met through work, whom I would never have crossed paths with otherwise.


Having a job also makes me feel a little bit less like a drain on society. Being a student is being in life limbo; we aren’t fully responsible for ourselves even though we are living away from home. There is something about going to work and feeling like what you do and how you act will affect the success and performance of something other than yourself. It’s good to feel useful. It’s great to pay for things with your own money.


Speaking of which, money is of course the first reason to get a job – whether it is out of necessity to pay for things such as rent and bills and food, or out of a different type of necessity to pay for alcohol and traveling and well-packaged hair products at Boots.


Get a job, get experience, make friends, make money, and I bet you will still be able to squeeze in one or six games of Call of Duty before the day is over.


Claire Nelson


Photo credit Rachael Cocking