August 25, 2021, by Susan Lim
Working while you are studying
It is quite common that we desire something or the other at any one time. We either work or we study as part of us probably still believes that if we did full-time studies, we should never bother exploring any job opportunities.
In my experience, both as a staff and student at the University, and also as an undergraduate years back, I never totally left the workforce.
When I entered the UG world, I had already quit my job to study full time. Given my circumstances, it was one of the best things I did for myself. I was working for a very successful local PR firm then amidst colleagues who were graduates and the desire to get back to school was higher than the freedom and comfort which my salary brought to me. Back then my older brother was also studying overseas.
I spent at least one year without a a job as a full-time student. I received a partial scholarship from The Star Publications, which was helpful, and my parents and sister supported me at that time. It was the finances or lack thereof, that first drew me to part-time and temporary positions, plus I was also getting anxious that I may have lost touch with the corporate world. So, I worked as a telemarketer for a couple of months ahead of the National Accountants Conference and I was a receptionist at a few offices including Lundin and a home-based legal office.
I met some people and made some money and I got to see the working world once again from a totally different level. It is eye opening what the student helper or the intern gets to see.
Graduation and full-time job
It still took me two months after graduation to secure a full-time position, most of my classmates took around six months to secure something permanent. The nine-to-five job during the first few months of my full-time job really drove me up the wall but besides that, I was comfortable in my working environment and was getting to know more heads of department as I had to work closely with them.
It was not apparent to me if I was hired because I had part-time job experiences while I studied my employer were certainly pleased that I had both the paper (my degree) and the experience from my previous PR jobs. And if I had not worked in PR before, I could imagine not standing a chance against someone who had work experience.
Opportunities for students
Your time as an undergraduate is invaluable, I look back at those years with such fond memories. I am so glad I made the most of it by doing well in my studies and also seeking work opportunities during my breaks. This definitely helped me to be more resourceful and enterprising. After a few months, I started becoming popular enough within the employment agency to receive jobs as a hostess at a conference where I walked away with RM100 a day. All I needed to do was look professional, usher guests and stand around from 9am to 5pm as the conference went on. An added bonus was being able to eat fruit tartlets while the conference was in session and right before the waiters cleared the buffet table.
Your opportunities to work as a student are plenty, provided you are open to opportunities and resourceful in looking for them. I know that my colleagues and I are constantly looking for similar opportunities to work with students like you for mutually beneficial goals.
This season does not last long enough, but the memories definitely do, and the good memories will last a lifetime. For me, it was the many events that I was a part of, the people I met, the leaders I admired, the fun and laughter with colleagues over lunch, the enthusiasm to show up to sometimes receive one more rejection from a busy accountant and off course, the growing bank balance.
I revisited the work and study option again as a part time post graduate students at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, though fruit tartlets were limited, that experience was invaluable yet challenging. Most positions were amplified during the pandemic, and you can be certain communications had to deal with a permenant and evolving crisis, COVID- 19. This is best discussed over coffee.
An immediate opportunity
If you are a student and have impeccable writing skills and language skills, are open to learning and growing and dare to challenge your own creativity, we would like to hear from you. Please drop me an email.
Josephine Dionisappu, PR and Communications Manager, University of Nottingham Malaysia
MA Educational Leadership and Management, 2021