The Oxford School of Drama

Third Year Student Advice

We asked a Third Year Student if they had any advice for those students who will need to work alongside their training.

Jessica Whiley, Three Year Course student, gave us this really helpful advice to offer.

During my time at the school, I’ve worked a part time job on the weekend. This has supported my living costs as a student, monthly bills, food shopping, gym membership and other things like the occasional dinner or night out with friends. In my first year I worked in Oxford city centre in the Westgate, travelling to and from work on the bus. I then moved to Woodstock in my third year and switched to a job more locally. My jobs have included retail, teaching at a stage school and even bridal styling! 

Having a job is something that many of you may have to do whilst you’re training, and it’s totally doable. However here are some tips I have about how to manage doing both…

 

  • Try not to work on both days of the weekend if you can. You MUST get time to rest, see friends and unwind. You’ll also need to complete the work that’s due for the coming week. Food prep will be important, as well as all the practical things like washing and cleaning. If it’s your first time living away from home it may be an adjustment for you to have to manage your time effectively (and trust me, we all struggle with this!) so giving yourself at least one day off to get the basics done will help you immensely.
  • Work a job that feels sustainable. The training will be physically and emotionally challenging, so try to do something you feel you can keep up for the ten or eleven weeks of the term time. Also bear in mind that your employer might want you to work during the holidays if you have a contract! 
  • Try, if you can, to work a job that you’ll enjoy. Perhaps you’re really sociable and a coffee shop would suit you best. Oxford and Woodstock have some lovely cafes, restaurants and bars that are always looking for staff. Again, because the training can be very full on you want to wake up on a Saturday or Sunday and look forward to going into work. If the role has perks like free food on your lunch break, then this is a great way of budgeting.
  • Remember too that your employer (unless they did it in a past life) won’t understand what drama school really entails! So, they will be expecting you to crack on with full energy like everybody else. They’ll probably compare it to university, which we all know is totally different. Keep in mind they may not understand or have empathy for what you’ve been up to during the week.
  • Always remember to check your pay slip to make sure you’re being paid for your correct working hours, and you’re getting all your holiday pay/allowance etc. Sometimes employers can be cheeky, especially with students if you’re on a 0 hour contract for example. Be aware of what the job entails and make sure you’re on it!!
  • Budget where you can. This is a given for all students anyway, but when you’re earning your own money to pay your way, it helps to keep on top of what you are spending and how. There have been times where I’ve got carried away and haven’t budgeted well. It’s surprising how much this can throw you off for the following weeks, and with no more time to work it can be tricky to get back on track. I found that making a note folder even in my phone or even a spreadsheet is so helpful. Detail both incomes and outgoings. This way you can really aware of what needs to be spent and when, and how much you need for the following month etc.
  • And finally – please, please don’t worry about not being able to “do it all”. It’s really easy to feel disheartened when you’re struggling as a student financially. Particularly if there are certain things you’d like to do but can’t afford to; go out more often, get new clothes, travel etc. I’ve had many of these moments of frustration! But remember that you’re taking on the most incredible opportunity, and so every sacrifice you make is worth it. It is difficult, but try and see it as an opportunity to build resilience and a strong work ethic! Some of the hardest times I’ve had on the course have happened when I’ve had a full on week of assessments or shows, and then I’m up at 6:30 for work on a Saturday. It wasn’t easy, but it taught me a LOT about managing my time and persevering. Plus, once you’ve graduated and you’re just getting started in the industry there may be times where you’re working multiple jobs to keep on top of rent and bills etc. Think of this as an opportunity to get good at the act of balancing!

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