Firstly, I must apologise for my absence from the blogosphere. In my last few posts I touched on the fact that I’ve been developing a few iPhone apps and that they have been an efficacious replacement for the pallet of Red Bulls stored in my cupboard. Needless to say, while my progress towards lectures, tutorials, blogging, socialising, sleeping, etc have been impeded, the health of my main app is significantly more robust, in comparison. Stay tuned for more info on that.
I will be enforcing a break from the severely smothered girlfriend that is Xcode and attempt to reignite my student life at Imperial. Recently I did another tour guiding job in my department, where I take a group of prospective students round campus and to their entrance interviews, answering any questions they might have along the way. This got me thinking about the popular questions people ask and e-mail to me, because of my capacity as a media junkie. The most common questions are usually to do with the cost of university, in particular: accommodation.
University is very very expensive, and any effort to increase the number of “very’s” I use typically leads to an even more expensive series of riots in England. This cost is doubly so for us Imperial students, since most of the buildings we have to spend are time in are roughly the same value as a 23 year old Facebook CEO. The two things that you have a lot of control over monetary-wise are accommodation and having at job while studying.
Accommodation I don’t want to spend too much time writing about, since I’m quite stubborn when it comes to my viewpoint. It’s essential. Being at Willis Jackson (my old hall of residence) changed me for the better in so many ways, and without it I would still effectively be a kid going to school every morning. The people you meet and the brand new dynamics of communal and semi-independent living are the only ways I can imagine preparing someone for the real world.
The main thing I wanted to talk about was getting a job at uni. There are many people who are able to successfully balance a part-time job, their studies and a social life. It’s not easy, but if you are hard working and driven enough, you can certainly do it. The key to that method is finding the right job. Restaurant staff, telephone call centers, and the Imperial Union are three great places that spring to mind, mainly because of the flexibility of their hours. However, it’s vital that I repetitively mention that this option is for incredibly hard working people. I maintain that I am one of the laziest and most unqualified students in this fine institution, and thus, spent my first two years fully focused on not getting kicked out.
There are other reasonably nice ways of making money, that don’t require too much of your time, should you be like me. Occasionally you hear about focus groups and research projects for students that want your opinions, input or fluids for some study. While these aren’t incredibly reliable in how often they are available, it’s nice to subsidise some of the more embarrassing nights out at Metric.
As of my third year I also have an official part-time job as the campus rep for Apple. It’s an incredible role to have and it’s certainly a job I enjoy, since I’ve been doing it free-of-charge for some time, with my position as a level 4 Apple fan-boy. However, I can’t deny that it initially impacted my timetable in a big way. While I could never have risked that in my first two years, at this stage (and especially after my internship) juggling with an extra ball is something that you get into quickly, without posing too much of a risk to the others. Campus rep jobs are great things to have, since they involve a regular paycheck at incredibly flexible hours and the majority of the workload is done by e-mail.
Also note, that while you may not be able to get a job during term-time, in your three summer months, you can get and internship. Obviously, having the words “Imperial College” on your CV certainly helps your chances along, when looking for something profitable.
University and the life we lead here can be expensive and overwhelming in many ways. The key is to look at it as an investment, and a very profitable one at that, if you are willing to make an effort of it. Money is an inevitable issue for a lot of people, and I do think apprenticeships are the unappreciated solution to any person with that problem. However, if you must take the leap and delve into University life, remember that there are always ways to pay off your student loan a tad early, whether it’s job-hunting or late nights writing the next killer iPhone app. Never let funding be a reason for woe, you have plenty of course content for that.
Thanks for reading,