Uni vs full-time work: the pros and cons of taking a gap year to work

September 13, 2016
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If you’ve found yourself falling asleep in most of your lectures or you’ve jealously watched your mates with proper adult jobs have the money to upgrade their cars and go out every weekend, you’ve probably considered taking a break from study.

The age old gap-year debate is one I never thought I’d be able to weigh in on, but after being offered a 12 month full-time contract for a super exciting job, taking a year off to work was a no-brainer. More money, more points for my resume and no more essays? Sounds perfect to me.

But after taking time off to experience the “real world”, I’m older and wiser and have realised there are so many things I wish my naïve little student self had known.

If you’re considering taking a breather from uni life or you're wondering which side of the grass is greener, here are some things to think about.

Money money money

You know that sinking feeling when you realise you’ve got three weekends of 21st birthdays in a row and only 30 cents left of your $250 fortnightly pay? Well, assuming you’re not totally careless with your spending, that feeling lessens with full-time work. Saving and budgeting for something special like a holiday or event is a lot easier too when you know exactly how much you’re going to earn. You also have less opportunities to shop online than you would sitting in uninspiring classes.

Although I'm reluctant to admit it’s something I care that much about, there’s no denying that money makes the world go round and having a steady flow of dollar dollar bills y’all makes life a hell of a lot easier.

Time is of the essence

On the flip side of that, the reason you have so much extra moola is because you’re working all the time. Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – that’s more hours working in your week than not. And let me tell you, it’s bloody tiring.

Stepping away from the uni lifestyle has shown me just how much time I used to be spoiled with. In the working world, the concept of doing brunch on a Thursday morning while nursing a hangover from all those $5 house spirits you consumed on student night, is straight up unfathomable.

And trust me, when you think you don’t have enough time to do those four assignments over the next month, I promise you, you do.

Resume game is strong

From a career perspective, this is the greatest benefit of giving full-time work a crack. At some point, you’re going to be hunting for a job and because so many more people are going to university these days, the competition for grad positions is intense.

Having some experience under your belt and a good relationship with an employer before you’ve even graduated puts you on the front foot and takes a lot of stress out of your future.

Act your age

Regardless of the benefits of working full-time, I must admit that it’s helped me realise just how much I miss university. If you feel like you’re rushing towards the end of your qualifications to get it over and done with and get on with real life – you’re missing the point!

You’re young and you’ve got the greatest amount of freedom and the least amount of responsibilities that you’ll ever have in your life. You have the opportunity to stuff up and learn, to try new things and figure out the kind of life you want to live.

Marlee Silva

Marlee is currently on a one year break from studying Politics/Creative Writing at UOW. She loves her two dogs like they're her children and has recently overcome a fear of avocados (it's a texture thing).

Image: Leo Hidalgo, Flickr Creative Commons license

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