A job is about so much more than the pay - it’s the friends you make too

PUBLISHED: 06:07 23 February 2018

Liam Heitman-Rice. Picture: Submitted

Liam Heitman-Rice. Picture: Submitted

Supplied by Liam Heitman-Rice via Trevor Heaton

Get a job, they say. Get some experience, it’ll look good on your CV. Earn your own money, be independent – fantastic.

Of course, this is news to no-one - the benefits of part-time work have surely become gospel by now.

But there are other aspects of the workaday world which don’t get as much attention, chief among which being the friendships you build with your colleagues.

Having a job can easily become something of a hobby when working alongside people who make it so fun and enjoyable, those who have your back and support you in times of stress or sickness.

Trust me, it is always appreciated to have some solidarity from workmates when you’re hungover.

I have been working since the age of 11, from paperboy to barman, checkout operative to dish-washer and housekeeper, from weed-puller to door-to-door salesman, to waiter to writer and market-stall worker.

I’d say the jobs I am best suited to were within hospitality, as they don’t require much technical ability. So long as you smile, say hi, open conversation and keep it flowing – and make sure the customer gets what they ordered – all is well in the world.

At the moment I work in a restaurant in St Benedicts Street, which is fascinating as all restaurants are.

As I usually steal what’s around me for my stories, there is no shortage of characters and conversation to pluck out of the air and slap into a notebook.

Restaurants tend to represent an intriguing microcosm of the city within which they are situated, with all of its eclectic characters and costumes.

A restaurant is a small, unscripted theatre, splashed with prosecco and perfume. Add in the staff food – which is always excellent, as I work in a Turkish restaurant – and the occasional staff party – which is also always excellent – and there is a lot to be said of the benefits of holding a job in hospitality.

Outside of my university circle, I love to meet new people. My place of work has a terrific, dynamic energy that results in much hilarious chat and in-jokes.

One of my workmates is Isaac Wright, 17, an acting diploma student, who says having a part-time job has “allowed me to gain knowledge in so many different areas and fields. From one tiny thing, it can lead to so many possibilities”.

Regarding the transferable skills one acquires from part-time employment, Isaac believes “having a part-time job is really valuable to me, not only because it has opened up so many future pathways but because it has allowed me to meet lots and lots of different, new people with whom I have shared, and will continue to share, new experiences. And I love the fact that work colleagues can become family so quickly”.

Meanwhile, Ellie Reeves, 20, found it difficult to set off from the starting line of her job.

“For the duration of my A-levels I worked as a waitress for Café Rouge,” she said.

“It was my first ‘real’ job and, to be honest, at first I didn’t enjoy the experience. I felt so out of place compared to studying in sixth form, where I knew my college like the back of my hand. But the feeling of insecurity didn’t last long.”

Like Isaac, Ellie felt that “everything inevitably became a team effort, and collective responsibility. The faster I learned, and the fewer mistakes I made, the better for everyone - and so the team I worked with were always willing to help me out. This played a massive role in my personal growth over the next two years.

“The main benefit of working part-time at that age was the new level of independence, both from the money and the skillset gained.

“I knew how to do things that would get me work whenever I needed it, and made the concept of stepping out on my own – at university or afterwards – far less daunting.”

Holding a job is worth so much more than just the paypack you get at the end of the month. It is an opportunity to learn invaluable social skills, meet terrific new people and forge incredible friendships.

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