I was not allowed to work during high school. My mom discouraged it, urging me to instead focus on my studies. I’m grateful for her decision because I am now a student at NYU, my dream school, and I know my excellent academic record contributed to my acceptance. However, throughout my time at NYU thus far, I have not experienced what it is like to be just a student. On top of being a full-time student, I have worked part-time since my first year. If I’m not at class, I am most likely at one of my jobs. Even though working as a student entails sacrificing a significant amount of your free time and maybe having to say no to your friends every once in a while, it is worth it.
I have sustained myself since I started college, providing for myself: groceries, vacations, textbooks, transportation — you name it. Every time the direct deposit hits my bank account every two weeks, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I earned that money, and I don’t have to financially rely on anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, I still rely on my mom for some things, but I know that I don’t need her help because I can completely financially support myself if need be. The financial freedom is liberating.
While working during college is a clear resume booster, it also teaches you valuable skills such as prioritization, time management and commitment. I work between 20 and 25 hours a week, but I designed my class schedule so that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I finish class and work by 2:30 p.m. That gives me three days where I have the entire afternoon and evening to do homework or something fun. Other weekdays, I am at class or work from 9 a.m. — sometimes earlier — until 6 p.m. or later, usually with a short 30-minute break during the day. Due to my strict schedule, I have to plan my weeks and prioritize assignments. My planner is my bible — I even plan when to meet with friends or go to the gym. While my time is usually accounted for on my planner, I always leave time to have fun. And more importantly, I have learned to accept when I have to deviate from my schedule.
Working as a student, even as a first-year, is a sacrifice, but it is also rewarding. NYU and New York City have so many opportunities to offer — don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. A busy schedule and the accompanying stress is part of the NYU lifestyle.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, April 30 print edition. Email Paola Nagovitch at [email protected].