In the old days student life was a tad easier. Manage to survive A-levels and you had a ticket to 3 years of the good life. A state-sponsored holiday where your endless partying and time spent perfecting that beer-can tower and deciding which Marxist tract was is fashion this week was only interrupted by having to show your face in lectures now and again and write one of those blasted essays. And hey even if you fucked it all up in the end, its all about the experience maaann, and it didn’t cost you ‘owt.
But now, grants have gone the way of the dodo to be replaced by fees and loans and bills and overdrafts and more loans and credit card debt mountains and Aaarrrrgggggghhhh. So how to get around this?
Well, you can take on the typical student part-time job. Work behind a bar for instance: you probably spend most of your time there anyway so you might as well get paid for it no? But when you’re hosing down the bins at 3am you may look at your favourite hangout in quite a different light. And then there are call centres-for better cash and better hours. But that is if you can cope with spending even more time staring at a computer screen endlessly repeating: ‘canIhavethelongnumberacrossthemiddleofyourcardplease?’ Then there is always promo work. Become a figure of hate accosting the innocent with another chunk of the Amazon rainforest printed the details of the latest, short-lived student disco.
But there are other ways of getting through this University business without leaving owing the equivalent of a national debt of a small African republic, or spending the whole three years eating economy bread and never leaving the house.
Fancy something a little more glamorous than shelf stacking? Then how about spending your weekends as a lap dancer? Itchy asked ‘Candice’, a third year LJMU student, how she got into such a business: “Well basically I ran out of cash and was starving and I knew another girl who did it so she suggested I go down with her, I got the job that night.” So, what was it like? “Well you didn’t have to take absolutely everything off and I like dancing, but you had to deal with lecherous old men, and the stag do’s were the worst, just telling guys again and again no touching.”
Surely the dosh wasn’t too bad?
“It wasn’t that great, you had to give the money you made from the first eight dances to the house before you made any money yourself, and even getting eight was not easy sometimes.”
But it wasn’t all bad: “I did get a nice pair of thigh-high boots for free which I still have.”
Shai Vure, a final-year Arts, Music and Entertainment management student at LIPA earned a bit of spare cash as a DJ, playing the Magnet and the Barfly amongst others. Itchy asks how much he got for the privilege:
“Well sometimes it was for nothing but I did get up to £50 a night”.
So getting paid to play records, not bad eh?
“Yeah if nothing else it’s good fun, you’re able to play your own music and the feeling that you could be influencing people is good.”
Why did you pack it in then? “Well you can get the feeling that your nothing but a human jukebox, the kind of situations I was playing in people knew the songs and knew what they wanted to hear” he continues: “If you really want to make a go of it can be quite expensive too, you really have to be out buying records every week”.
Alex Smith, a first year biomedical science student at Liverpool University,
moonlights as a tractor driver – “a bit of a boyhood fantasy” – so when he saw a vacancy in his local newspaper he “jumped at the chance” and gets £6.50 an hour to scoot around in the summer holidays.
“It’s a great laugh, there are some good people down on the farm, but there is a lot of pressure because if you don’t get the harvest in the livelihood of the farm is at risk, but that makes you all get along a lot better.”
Bad points? “It can be very anti-social, at the height of the harvest there is a peak period of about three weeks when you will be working from 9am-10pm, 7 days a week.”
There are also ways of earning money and helping others in the process. Itchy had words with Amy Underwood, a second-year fine art student at LJMU who works for RNID Typetalk; the phone service for the deaf, where user’s type in conversations on a keyboard and handlers read it out to people on the other end of the line.
“It varies,” she says, “sometimes it’s quite boring, people talking about the weather for ages and ordering takeaway; other times you have to relay bad news like deaths in the family. Sometimes it’s laughable, you get people ringing sex lines…but it’s fantastic to do something where you can earn money and give something back.”
Don’t fancy being a wage slave in any capacity? Then why not try setting up your own business. Tom Bloxham is the multi-millionaire owner of property company Urban Splash, owners of Liverpool’s Tea Factory amongst others, started out flogging band posters that he picked up free from record distributors. However this was only after a failed venture to hawk a job lot of Wham records to his understandably disinterested fellow students. So get the right idea, execute it successfully and you could be set up for life.
Can’t be bothered to lift even a finger in exchange for your paydirt? There may still be ways to survive.
Convance, a Leeds-based medical testing company offers its lucky volunteers around £1,200 to participate in a 14 day trial where you get lie around doing as you please, not to mention the offer of “croquet, boules and garden Jenga” in the grounds. Your peace interrupted only by the odd blood and urine sample. You’ll also be safe in the knowledge that you’re benefiting mankind as you sit on your backside playing Playstation.
There are also many kinds of grants, scholarships and bursaries available to those in higher education. Most of these are understandably aimed at the financially disadvantaged and academically excellent, but there are many more awards out there with more unusual criteria waiting to be snapped up if you do you research. But unfortunately, only in America are scholarships available specifically for talented Skateboarders and needy left-handers.
And – hey – if all else fails you can always get that job in a bar/call centre or become another reluctant retail monkey, ‘cos if you think that’s shit wait till you have to join the real world.
By Kenn Taylor