There are loads of opportunities to be involved in something at university; I hope you’ve gained a small insight of that from these blogs and the things I get up to in my spare time! One of the slight downsides to doing a lot of extra-curricular activities is that sometimes it can cost a bit of money. Most societies are very student-purse friendly, with a low membership fees and lots of discounts for society members. However, it’s nice to have a bit of extra cash to do these other fun things, and to not be struggling for money. One of the best ways to do this is to get a part-time job.
First year maths students have approximately 18 hours contact time a week, and this tends to be spread throughout the week; Monday-Friday, 9am – 6pm. It means you have plenty of time to spend doing other things. Depending on your timetable, a part-time job with regular hours can sometimes be difficult to fit in. There are actually several jobs at the university which are primarily aimed at students. The hours are flexible as they understand that you’re a student and you need to study too! There are opportunities for bar work and retail work within YUSU (University of York Students’ Union) as they have several bars and cafes across campus, and a newsagent type shop next to the supermarket in Market Square.
Another job option is to be a Student Ambassador. Those people you see in the turquoise t-shirts at Open Days- that’s us! I applied to be an ambassador in my first year and have been working for them ever since. As a Student Ambassador, I work a lot with school-aged children and prospective students (like you!). It requires you to be super enthusiastic about uni, but that’s not hard from my perspective – I could talk about uni for hours! The job is great, as you choose which shifts you are available to do and then the work is allocated fairly between all the ambassadors. It means you can be flexible with your money earning. For example, my timetable in second year had fewer contact hours (12 a week) but my lectures always clashed with shifts, so I worked a lot during the holidays.
There is also the option to work on residentials through the Student Ambassador scheme. These require an additional application and interview, but they’re worth doing as they’re really fun and are paid well! Run by the Widening Participation team, these residentials give younger students an insight into what university life is like. The children come and stay at the university for three days, and we run academic and student life sessions. It gives them a taste of what uni might be like, and encourages them to consider Higher Education. It doesn’t have to be at York, but the aim is to inspire people to achieve their potential, and I think that’s a great thing. I worked on a residential this Easter, as a Senior Residential Assistant. This meant that I wasn’t directly responsible for the children on the residential – I was responsible for the other Residential Assistants. We had a great team of student ambassadors working on the residential and we got to know each other really well; we’re currently planning a wine, cheese and Mulan evening next term. Because who doesn’t love those three things?! It’s so nice to mix with a completely different set of people who you might not have met otherwise! There are also residentials which run in the summer after the university year is over.
You can also be an ambassador for your department, and I do that too. That involves working on the mathematics stand at Open Days and being a student guide on Post-Offer Days – I’ve probably met some of you! The Post-Offer Days involve chatting to prospective students, giving campus tours, and occasionally student life presentations and question panels for parents.
Volunteering is also a great way to gain work experience, although obviously it isn’t paid. This Easter, I’m volunteering at another residential (what can I say, I love residentials). This one is a music course for 3-18 year olds that I used to take part in during my time at school. It’s held in a lovely boarding school about 45 minutes from York, and I’ve made some of my closest friends on this course. The past couple of years I’ve been invited back to help out during the course. I arrive early and help to set up the residential, putting together information packs, that sort of thing. During the course itself I help out by playing in the orchestras, run an art room for the younger kids, and am generally a helpful face.
This summer I’m doing some more volunteering, this time with an international organisation called CISV. The organisation was set up after the Second World War as a peace initiative. Its aim is to work with children and to educate them about other people’s cultures and ways of life. If you’re interested in being involved (they’re always looking for volunteers), here’s a link to the Great Britain CISV website: http://www.gb.cisv.org/. This August I’m taking four 15 year olds to Berlin for three weeks; it’s a bit like a summer camp. There’ll be people there from the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, USA, Luxemburg, Italy, Greece and of course Great Britain. I’m really excited as it’s my first time doing something with this organisation, and Berlin is one of my favourite places!
I hope that’s given you some ideas to gain work experience and earn some money! Over and out.