The Ultimate Guide To Surviving The Uni Job You Hate

person holding apple magic mouse
Photo by Vojtech Okenka on

Part of the university experience for a lot of students is getting a part-time job. Most of the time these are retail or hospitality jobs that are unappealing at the best of times. While it’s important to remember just how crucial these jobs are at forming your work ethic and boosting your weekends, it’s hard to escape the fact that we often detest them. Here’s my 5-step guide to surviving the Uni job you hate.

1. The skills you’re learning are invaluable, keep going!

Let’s start with a bit of a boring one. Excuse me while I sound like your parent but, no matter how tedious and low level the job feels, you’re benefiting. Aside from the obvious monetary benefits, you’re learning to deal with professional relationships, with the public, and with bosses. All of which is going to serve you incredibly well in any job you have in the future. Try and keep your attention more on the transferrable skills you’re learning on the job rather than the coffee menu burning itself into your brain.

2. Remember why you started the job in the first place

Think of the fancy dress nights you could nail. Or think of the boost to your nights out with a little extra disposable income.  Think of the new pyjamas to replace your teenage ones. The road trips you could afford to go on and create irreplaceable memories. There are so many reasons why you wanted to get a job in the first place. Whatever those reasons were, don’t lose sight of them. I know that some jobs can be soul-destroying but remember that you’re working to live not living to work.

3. Focus on the good elements of the job

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m fairly certain that you won’t find a job ever that doesn’t have something annoying about it. Even the most dream job you can think of is going to have its downsides, or simply feel like a chore some days. The idea is to find something that has more good things than bad. When you’re just starting out, or you’ve ended up in a job out of necessity rather than desire, there are going to be more bad things than good. 

In my extensive experience in these jobs, I’ve worked out that the best way to survive is to focus on the few good things. That co-worker that you can’t live without. The regular that gets how bad the job is and is understanding. The fact that you get to go home at the end of a shift and leave the place and people behind. There will always be something good to focus on.

4. Visualise future jobs

So, no one starts their first part-time job and hopes to stay there forever, at least I’ve never met anyone who does. That means that there will always be future jobs. The plan that most of us have is that each subsequent job gets a little bit better and a little closer to our goals.  Visualise those jobs. Most part-time starter jobs have a ton of downtime, use it to motivate yourself. When you’re mopping coffee stains off the floor at closing, visualise the job you’ll have one day where you never have to pick up a mop or wipe something questionable off a table.

5. Remember that it won’t be forever

This one really builds on tip 4, but I think it’s the most crucial one. This job will not be forever. This is the mantra that has gotten me through some pretty atrocious jobs and still does. You can always change your situation, it will take time, but it’s up to you. You may be having to deal with terrible customers today, but one day you’ll get to be the customer. You’ll get to be someone who used to work retail.  Someone who used to work in a coffee shop.  And with a little bit of luck and hard work, you’ll be glad you’re not there anymore.

All of this is to say that we don’t always have a job that we like and when that happens, it can be mentally draining. It’s often not as easy as just quitting the job you hate; we have responsibilities after all. So, if you’re feeling stuck where you work and dread going in, know that you can make it through. And if you’re lucky enough to move on one day and find a job you like, remember that the server that didn’t smile while they made your coffee, probably doesn’t like their job. Be nice to people still working the jobs you hated.

Leave a Reply