We’re delighted to welcome blogs by one of our student ambassadors, Hien T Dao, who will be sharing posts about her experience of coming to Sheffield and studying on our MA Education course. T Hien joins the School of Education from her home country of Vietnam.
Working a part time job whilst at Uni?
Being an international student in Sheffield, working part time alongside my pursuit of a Master’s degree made me feel like I was a superhero with two identities; one as a student learning and working on assignments, and the other working at a school assisting teachers and making their jobs easier. Being an Education student, this was the best job that I could not ask for more! Although it can be stressful at times when there were language barriers and I did not clearly understand what often happened inside a classroom in the UK, the decision to enrich my university life with a part time job is one which I will never regret.
Starter: How it all began
I first had the idea of looking for a part time job way back in my first term, about just a month since I arrived here. I was keen on working with students as I had experiences working with them before back in Vietnam and that is also the job I want to keep doing in the future. There are two types of jobs you can look for which are on campus jobs and off campus jobs. Which means you can search for some jobs to work for the university such as Student Ambassador, International Student Ambassador, Global Campus Ambassador, Student Staff, Teaching Assistant …. You can find those jobs on the Job Shop website or Career Connect. There are some off campus jobs like cashier, waiter, food and beverage assistant, teaching assistant for primary and secondary schools.
For my job, I got an interview after sending my CV and filling in an online application form and began working in November — 2 months after I arrived in the UK, and got tasked with setting up equipment for lessons, keeping the classroom safe and tidy, supervising group activities and sometimes helping pupils with their learning.
Main: The takeaways from this experience
Initially the goal of having a part time job was to get additional allowance for day-to-day living and travel expenses while in the UK, but slowly another purpose came into existence, I started to gain transferable skills that I could use in my studies and future career. Seeing that I was already busy with coursework, having a part time job was sort of a challenge to me, learning how to juggle between different responsibilities. This was a useful skill to learn because in life there will always be a need to balance between multiple commitments. With my part time job, I am forced to manage my time well by scheduling time for classes, coursework, and work. From here, I learned to manage my time wisely. Despite the 20-hour work limit per week as outlined on the international student visa, it was a blessing in disguise because it makes sure that I don’t go overboard with the working hours which could disrupt my learning experience in university.
By working as a teaching assistant, I am able to work on my communication and relational skills by communicating not only with the teachers but also engaging in conversation with students. I have learnt how to effectively communicate with students so that they could feel inspired by me. I do not only help them in that moment to solve their problems but also encourage them to reach further in their study. This job provides me with opportunities to learn how to actively listen to students which is beneficial for someone like me who aspires to work as a teacher in the future. Moreover, sometimes I struggle with language barriers. This job gives me a chance to practise the real experience to come up with solutions.
Dessert: Ending on a sweet note
When my time here in the UK as a student comes to an end, so too will my job as a teaching assistant at primary school. Then I have to have another plan for myself. In a nutshell, the experience that I have gained as a part time worker while undertaking my post graduate degree has provided me with many transferable skills that I believe will be useful in my future. If you are considering working part time while studying, I impart to you some words of advice; know the responsibilities of the job to ensure that you can cope with the workload on top of the workload from your university course. Remember, do not put too much on your plate!
Hien T Dao