Author Topic: Finish uni full time vs part time- Take part time job to full time? Any advice?  (Read 1688 times)


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Hi everyone, first thread start on here, so a little nervous. Here goes.

TLDR:  Got a new part time job that I didn't think I would enjoy as much as I do, it pays decently, and is giving me the opportunity for almost full time hours, being a poor student sucks, having money and saving being so easy now makes it so tempting to just go with working, and experiencing 'third year fatigue' with my degree, so need some advice as to whether or not I should throw myself into working more, or stick with my degree and then start again in the field I studied for.

The long version:

I am a 3rd year BA/BSc conjoint degree student (also called a double degree I think?) from New Zealand (so all $ in NZD)
I have roughly a year to go to walk out with two degrees, however, that 'year' is more likely to be 1.5 years as all my remaining papers are scheduled for semester 1, and I have a year worth of papers (2 semesters) though if there are clashes it might take up to 3 semesters (and therefore be 2.5 years until I graduate).
My majors are Ecology (focused towards biosecurity), Statistics, and Maori Studies (Think Indigenous Studies).
How these go together: Ecology is a blend of geography, biology and environmental science, my particular focus is biosecurity, which is important in my country as we are an island nation with an economy dependent on agriculture. Collected data needs to be processed to be useful, so we have compulsory Statistics papers to teach us to do this, and more = better when it comes to stats & ecology so I took it as a second major. Maori Studies includes several language papers, as well as contemporary issues papers and treaty law, as because of the relationship that my country's government has with the indigenous people of New Zealand, this is a major bonus when working in any council or ministry, as there is a growing emphasis towards co-management, and a focus on Treaty obligations and how organisations need to meet these. At the end of this I have been looking at joining the Auckland Council (council for the biggest city in NZ, and the organisation in NZ that has recently gone through the biggest merger ever in my country, taking I think 8 seperate district councils and amalgamating them into a 'supercity' council, also has the biggest port and airport in the country) or the Ministry of Primary Industry (has a combined agriculture/forestry focus, most of the biosecurity work is here).

Financial situation:
approx $45k+ in interest free student loans from the government. My ability to borrow more from the government runs out after either this semester or next semester (they've been anxiety-inducingly unclear about this) so after it runs out I have to support myself studying.

Currently no other debt, but less than $1k savings (though this is rapidly growing thanks to my new part time job). I had a decent amount this time last year, but used this for a semester abroad studying in the UK, as well as sorting out some financial issues that cropped up when I came back to NZ, and most of the rest went into bond money for the flat that I am now living in (I get it back when I move out so long as the place is in good condition).

Flat-sharing with four others - one full time student, one full time worker, one full time worker & part time student, and the adult child of the full time student (currently on sickness benefit, unable to work). Flat costs work out to $110/week for rent (good in this city) and approx $30/week utilities incl. internet. transport costs into the city for uni/work each week have been approx $30-40 depending on how often I've had to go in (and if I can get there by train, which is often cheaper than the bus) and I live decently close to a bus stop and train station, which is nice.
I've managed to live in the above (or similar- rent and transport costs change depending on where you live but pretty much even out, transport decreases if you live closer but rent increases) situation reasonably happily for the past few years on the student allowance of $210/week + whatever money I could bring in through a 'casual' (not guaranteed any work at all) $15/hour part time job working at events like concerts and ball games, which completely dries up in the middle of the year (our winter), but that capped out at the start of this semester, and the max that I could borrow towards living costs on my student loan is $170/week. This meant that I burnt through my savings pretty fast, as my costs exceeded my income and was a big source of stress. And I NEEDED to secure a job this semester, because this summer (in a couple of months) I don't qualify for any financial aid even though 'summer jobs' aren't really a thing here.
So, I'm used to surviving on approx $11k NZD/year.

Recently, I turned things around. I finally managed to get a part time job at one of the biggest inner city employers, and it comes with contractual minimum hours per week- a first for me, I've only ever managed to get casual or fixed-term work before. Doing the training was hard, as it was 36 hours per week, unpaid, often ending late at night. I got behind at uni, and haven't caught up. But I made it through. The first 150 hours that I work I am paid a 'trainee wage' of $15.60/hour, but that goes up to $19.20/hour once I have got through those first 150 hours. It's my third week of working, night shift, 8pm-4am, and the first two weeks I had four 8-hour shifts, this week I have two but can ask for more. I'm already a third of my way towards that nearly $4/hour pay rise and want to get there quite quickly. I'm getting further behind in uni due to the hours that I am working, but no longer stressing and struggling with finances has been such a relief. I can easily put 50+% of my pay into savings, and still not worry about having enough money to survive. It's wonderful. I've even been asked if I am interested in putting my name forward for the full time positions that are opening up in my department soon. I'm a good worker, and I'd like to think, pleasant to be around. I wondered if I would like my job or not, had real frustrations with some of the training, but as soon as I started realised that I was really enjoying myself. We've got a decent strong union too, and a good collective agreement. My pay is going to keep rising annually regardless, but in 6 months I could put myself forward for extra training (paid, this time) earn new skills, and get paid more after that. My work has a really good company culture, and a real stake in keeping it's employees happy, especially people in my position, as we are the face of the company, directly responsible for the handling of most of it's assets, the majority of customer interaction, and are responsible for a large chunk of the income. Even at entry level, I get a lot of respect from my co-workers in other departments, and those senior to me in my department are as a majority very helpful and friendly. There are a lot of company benefits, including very cheap car parking for staff (though I don't have a vehicle at the moment) as well as a very neat 'shuttle' taxi service for night shift workers that drops me to my door for $4 at 5am- that's only $0.50 more than a bus, and buses don't run that early or get that close to my house. It comes straight out of my pay before tax too. And there is a 24 hour cafeteria for staff that does decent meals for $2.50., as well as free tea, coffee and cordial.
Simply put, it's a damn nice place to work, and I really enjoy working there. Most people that I know have graduated uni already (I started a year later, and my degree is longer), and I have stopped enjoying it. And I'm getting a worrying feeling that if I stick with this and graduate, an entry level job in the organisation that I originally wanted to be in is going to pay less, have fewer benefits, be less fun, and potentially be a less enjoyable work environment. I'll have potential to rise up to higher pay grades eventually, but I don't know if that 'eventually' fits on a FIRE timeline, or if I want the added stress that will certainly come with the higher paygrade. Even if I make this job full time, I'll be making approx. $40k which is not much by the standards of most people on here, but I only need $11k or so to live happily right now,  maybe another $1-3k to do some of the things (go to events, travel a little) that I have missed out on, so I'd still be able to save 50-70% of my income. Houses in my city are ridiculously unaffordable to buy, so I am planning on renting for a while, and then building a tiny house that will be my eventual home. I also have a partner, who makes a lot more than me (he works in computer systems engineering, and is the full-time worker part time student mentioned above, once he graduates, his earning potential vastly increases) but I don't want to rely on him/ his income for financial security, as both of us have trust issues r.e. asset sharing that will take a while to go away, him due to the fallout from his parents' divorce, and me due to my family's unhealthy attitude towards financial help, and some slightly twisted power dynamics that I've worked pretty hard to distance myself, figuratively and literally, from. Which adds up to it being unlikely that the two of us will buy a house together (that and him and his best friend, the full time worker we live with, have been looking at buying a house together and working towards that goal for 3 years or so( which, to be honest, I don't mind. I don't want property in Auckland, and so long as he gets somewhere with a lawn that I can park MY tiny house on, we're happy with that.

So the real question is, do I stick with uni? Trying to do full time uni is burning me out while working the hours that I am, and taking it down to part time might help, though that means that I take longer to get to my 'goal' career. On the other hand, I am really enjoying my new job, am doing almost full time hours anyway (and can ask scheduling to give me full time hours or more) and there are full time positions available. $19.20 is a very decent starting rate too, and I might make supervisor or at least dual-rate (a combination of my role and a supervisor's role) in a couple of years if I work hard. Night shift doesn't really bother me as I seem to be naturally nocturnal (my preferred approach to the early hours of the morning is to stay up until I meet them, rather than wake up early) and it's a good work environment. I don't know much about the work conditions or culture of the ministry and council that I have been aiming for, as it's kept under wraps a bit (the ministry at least, the council I've seen a bit of) though they do both offer grad programmes.
I'm pretty conflicted. Any advice would be welcome, and a huge thank you to anyone reading this wee novella I've written up.

Mother Fussbudget

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There's a separate thread on a similar topic... does this help?