Earn while you learn

Why hold off buying the latest smartphone or that diamond earring? You can always get a student job to earn some extra cash. That way you will gather valuable work experience too, says Moumita Chakrabarti

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 8.08.13
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Devi Chakrabarti loves her job as a junior consultant and photographer for Inverted Pyramid Consulting, a niche consulting firm that specialises in environmental, developmental, urban and business-marketing communication projects, especially since it still leaves her enough time for her studies. A student of sociology (honours) at Presidency University, Devi has been working from the time she left school. "I have been working at Inverted Pyramids for more than a year but I started working part time two and a half years ago," she says.

Part-time work not only brings in a bit of money but also prepares students for the world of work that lies ahead.

"After graduation, most of us will look for jobs or internships," says Devi. "I thought why wait until graduation to get a job when I am getting an opportunity to do it alongside." Devi feels that working has instilled a strong sense of responsibility and professionalism in her.

Camelia Biswas too is earning her pocket money as a content writer. "The job has helped boost my self confidence and made me responsible. I do not have to depend on my parents for every little thing I want to buy." A student of English (honours) at Jadavpur University in Calcutta, Camelia burns the midnight oil to balance work and studies. "I am an insomniac," she says with a grin. "So writing articles or studying late at night is not a big deal. I get paid per article so I try to write as many as possible without hampering my studies," she adds.

COMPANY CONNECT

If some students are interested in working part time, companies too are equally keen to take them on.

"It is easy to train these students. Besides, they are willing to work for a lot less, so companies engage them happily," says Heena Gorsia, an education consultant who was formerly attached to the Bhawanipur Gujarati Education Society College.

"We've been employing hundreds of college students for product promotion, event planning, field survey and so on," says Sabyasachi Chatterjee, executive director, Offbit Marketing Services, Calcutta. "A lot of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and electronic companies prefer bright college students to work part time for them. These assignments give students exposure, hone their communication skills and increase their confidence. Some students are even recruited by the companies as permanent employees," he adds.

Nilesh Das, a territory sales in-charge at Eveready Industries, was offered a full time job after having worked as a product promoter. "I had been promoting a product for Eveready last year. Impressed by my performance they offered me a full time job," says Nilesh who has just graduated from Prafulla Chandra College.

IMRB International recruits students to work as mystery auditors, more commonly known as mystery shoppers. Dhananjay Maniwade, field manager at IMRB International, says, "We often need students to do mystery audit for us. Sometimes we recruit management students to visit, say, an apparel store posing as a customer. We give them money for shopping and also pay Rs 1,000 as remuneration." Firms that do mystery audit need a pool of students, as they cannot send the same person to an outlet more than once. "Since mystery audits do not happen every day, it is advisable to not have people on the payroll," he adds.

Swati Krishnan, a student of Guru Nanak Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai, did a mystery audit for a Bose system for IMRB international. "I visited a Croma store in Mumbai and enquired about their home theatre system. Just like a customer, I diligently followed their demonstration and heard their explanation about the technology used. I also found out about the EMI procedure. Later I filled up the audit form," says she.

FULL-TIME JOBS

Not all college students work part time; some get into full-time jobs — such as in direct selling, product promotion or as customer service executives. Siddhartha Bose, a second-year student at Bhawanipur Gujarati Education Society College, started earning Rs 11,000 a month soon after he joined college. "I work as a senior web designing supervisor at Bello Vista Technologies, an IT company. From 7am to 4:30 pm I attend office and then I go for evening classes," says Siddhartha. "I chose to work and study simultaneously because I am capable of multi-tasking. I spend my salary on luxuries such as gadgets, clothes and accessories. I don't like to take money from my parents for such things," says the self-confessed gadget freak.

Aishani Sarkar has been working at the BPO Galactrix Private Limited as a supervisor for more than a year. She admits that it is hard to work and study at the same time. "I have to utilise each holiday and every off day to keep pace with academics. But I need the Rs 14,000 salary to support my family and continue my studies," she says.

"Students usually take up part-time work that is related to the subject they are studying. This helps them get a better understanding of the subject and also counts as experience. Even if they work in a job that is unconnected with their core subject, such as in a call centre or in event management, they get exposure to the world of work and also build their communication skills," says Gorsia. "So part-time work is beneficial for the student, the family (monetarily) and the institute too as they get smarter students," she points out.

If you are a management student, however, part-time work may not be all good. "Part-time work does not help a management student professionally," says Rita Seth, director general of the All India Management Association. "It is better for an MBA aspirant to work full time for a year or two and then join a full time management course. That way you'd come out wiser," she says.

There are numerous options available to make a buck while you are still learning but choose judiciously. Opt for jobs that leave you time for studies and also make you industry ready. And remember, today's employers place a premium on industry experience.

TOP STUDENT JOBS

MYSTERY SHOPPER

Work area: FMCG, market research, electronic goods companies
Location: Shopping malls, retail outlets, temporary sales booths
Timings: 6-8 hrs/day on weekends, vacations
Pay: Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per day

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

Work area: Research sector, educational companies, environment research and also TV channels such as National Geographic
Location: Consultancy firms
Timings: 2-5 hours
Pay: Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per project

CONTENT WRITER

Work area: Travel and education industries, consultancy firms, advertising agencies, web portals
Location: Online/offline
Timings: 4 hours/day
Pay: Rs 500-Rs1,200

CALL CENTRE EXECUTIVE

Work area: BPOs
Location: Office
Timings: 8 hours/day
Pay: Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 per month

PRODUCT PROMOTER

Work area: FMCG, electronics, cosmetics companies
Location: Malls, retail outlets, showrooms, temporary booths
Timings: 3-5 hours/day
Pay: Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 per project

(Additional reporting by Prasun Chaudhuri)