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Diary of a student: money versus work experience - The Guardian

Find the original article on the Guardian Money website

The Guardian's student blogger on the balancing act of keeping afloat financially and building up the CV

Writing about my financial plans for my three-month summer break may seem a little premature given I have another 10-week university term to look forward to, including exams and assignments. But I think about how quickly the first two terms have shot by, and how I really need to plan my time.

With a need to earn some cash, taking a summer job seems like a good option. Luckily this can be easily arranged by going back to the uniform shop I worked at last summer. It has its moments of boredom, but during peak times – when mothers realise their children actually need a uniform and there is a mad rush – the days don't feel as long.

But with many of my friends getting internships and seeking work experience, I also think I may benefit from a placement.

I want to be a journalist and have been told by everyone who works in the profession that a lack of experience will hinder my chances. I imagine this is true for many other fields – an individual can look great on paper, with the perfect academic record, but it's their work experience which will differentiate them from the other people applying for the same job.

One argument in favour of doing work experience is that I won't face any living costs. Many of the large newspapers and magazine companies are based in London, so considering I already live there I won't be faced with living expenses for the period of a potential placement. Many students I have spoken to are unfortunately in a position where they have to fork out hotel expenses because they live outside of the capital.

There is no guarantee I will get work experience, and even if I do I am unlikely to be paid for my work. But it would be good for my CV to have a reputable name on it, so if a big magazine was to offer me a months' unpaid work experience, I would accept.

Working during summer is important, but like many students I do actually want a holiday. While a week in Rome would be my ideal getaway, embracing the sun, culture and exquisite cuisine, I am very aware it could be rather expensive. Consequently, I don't mind settling for a budget holiday, even if it is in the UK with unpredictable weather.

With so many options to consider I still have concerns about my second year's rent in the back of my mind. If I were to take the summer job I could earn the cash needed to help pay it, but if I got some work experience I might be offered, say, two weeks in the middle of my summer break. Consequently I would lose out on the summer job (as they want someone who can work the whole summer), I don't make any cash and I can't afford a holiday. Would it be worth it? How do other students plan to balance the need for money, potential CV points and a bit of a rest?

Thursday, 12th April 2012

Tags:   guardian  /  students  /  blog  /  work experience  /  internship  /  salary  /  summer job  /  university  /  student debt
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