How Christmas Jobs Affect Students

Christmas jobs can cause unmanageable levels of stress for students looking for work. 

Seasonal jobs are popular among students who don’t have time to work during the semester, but the long shifts and low pay can have a negative impact on young people. 

Christmas job ads pop up in shop windows and on job websites as early as October or even September. Often, they are advertised as temporary positions covering three to 10 weeks over the holiday season.  

Aoife McMahon, a third-year DCU journalism student, had a Christmas job last year, which she described as “a nightmare”, and it ended up negatively impacting her health and studies.  

“I was just wrecked, you can ask all my friends I was probably a nightmare around those few weeks.” 

After her lectures finished, she would go straight to work to do a two to 10pm shift, leaving no time for her assignments or to spend with her friends. Closer to Christmas shops open later, and Aoife said she would often be working until 11pm or 11:30pm. 

Aoife said she was working 45 hour weeks alongside studying full time in college. Even after requesting less hours, she was only given two less hours per week. 

“I’d get home at around 11, I would usually sleep until 2am and then I would wake up and do an assignment and then I would go back to sleep.” 

With the later finishing times the closer it got to Christmas; Aoife sometimes had to be picked up after missing the final buses.  

Students finishing jobs late at night can be very dangerous. With the cold weather and dark nights and decrease in transport services, young people could be left to walk home or, if friends and family aren’t available, be forced to spend extortionate prices for a taxi. 

This year Aoife had to ask her parents for a loan instead of taking a job that could end up jeopardizing her degree. “It’s final year and I couldn’t let my studies suffer as much as I did, I could see a difference in the results I was getting.” 

When you search the job website Indeed for Christmas jobs, there are over 500 results in Ireland. A survey of the first 30 of these found that most adverts did not advertise the hours, pay or shifts required for that temporary position. 

Of the jobs that displayed their required hours, most commonly it was below 20 hours or above 40 per week. 

The average wage for these positions was between €9.50 and €10.50, and higher wages were reserved for skilled positions only.  

Aoife’s recommendation to other students working during the Christmas period was to “make up lectures” if a job asks for your timetable.  

“Because I’m in an arts degree I didn’t have that many hours,” she said, “so they just felt like any time I wasn’t in a lecture I could be in work, but that is absolutely not right… give yourself a few extra hours.” 

 

Infographics credit Sally Dobie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infographics credit Sally Dobie