Juggling a Job with School
story Anna Evtushenko
A famous saying goes: “Sleep, Study, Socialize: Choose Two”. It remains a mystery to this day how Yale-NUS College students often manage all three. And not just that: some manage a job as well.
With so little time to spare, students tend to choose jobs for more than money. For John Reid ’17, working at the Yale-NUS Cognition and Attention Lab with Professor Christopher Asplund caters to his interests in psychology and programming, offering an insight into researchers’ daily life. Reid explained, “our work has to do with particular attentionbased studies and making sure everything goes smoothly, from code to experiment—the nittygritty stuff.” To Reid, this is also a rare chance to get to know a professor on a deeper level.
Aaron Kurzak ’17 applied to the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore after a Week 7 trip piqued his interest in energy resources. “I went on to email the CEO because the usual contact emails often don’t work,” he said, explaining how he got the job. Working for ten hours a week all of last year, Kurzak helped write grant proposals and build a photovoltaic element for solar panels. Having gained real work experience, he is now looking to join the German Embassy in Singapore or a bank.
Although Thu Truong ’18 initially planned to work for the library, she joined the Dean of Students Office instead. “Yale-NUS is still quite new, and a lot of policies, for example, regarding minors and club funding, are not in place. What I help with is background research about such policies in other liberal arts colleges, and drafting our own,” she said. The novel experience has helped Truong become more organized and resourceful.
Still, holding down a job requires skillful time management and sacrifices. Truong, who works eight to ten hours a week, said, “It is tiring, indeed, and there are days I have to stay up till 5[am], but I love everything I’m doing.” She is also grateful to have a supervisor, Student Life Manager Chris O’Connell, who accommodates her available hours, she said.
While a job is often seen as separate from hobbies, Rachel Quek ’18 managed to combine both. “I always liked cooking,” she said, “and so joined the Shiok Shack as a cook as soon as I could.” However, as a start-up enterprise, it was not very efficient. “[So] I started helping out with customer service, menu and feedback, and became Assistant Manager,” she said.
Quek found a way to combine passion and work and learned the quirks of running a café along the way. “I might want to open my own restaurant one day,” she said. The skills gained at the Shiok Shack are important for Quek, so she is ready to sacrifice some of her study time for her job. “I have [also] decided to focus only on those extracurricular activities that I am passionate about and are important to my personal development,” she added.
According to Zhana Sandeva, Program Manager of CIPE Career Services, nearly 100 students are employed as Student Associates; about 20% of them have more than one job. There are currently 11 open Student Associate positions offered through CIPE.
Be it a hobby, something that enhances the academic experience, or a position you might have never imagined, there is a job for everyone, at the college or beyond. Taking time to do additional work comes at a cost, but can be worth it, both for the money and more.