Working in the UK
Having a job can be a great way to see a new place from a different perspective. You will likely interact with more locals and people that are not necessarily students. It makes you feel like less of a tourist, and more integrated into the everyday function of your new chosen home. University can feel like a tight little bubble, and a job can coax you out (in a good way).
Here are a few things to keep in mind when working in the UK for the first time.
You’ll need a National Insurance Number
Equivalent to a social insurance number in Canada, you are required to have one in order to receive paychecks properly. The process can take some time, so you are allowed to start working without the number, but you are expected to be in the process of obtaining one. It's not hard to do; you’ll need to call a hotline and set up an interview. You’ll bring documentation showing your address and identity, and within a few weeks you’ll receive your number in the mail.
It’s a great way to get experience in your chosen field
Summer is a great time to build your CV and pick up some experience that you may not find during the school year. From the first day of my law degree, we were drilled on the importance of receiving actual legal experience. It’s a very competitive field and you need to have something to make you stand out. This can be hard to reach during the school term when you’re stressed and drowning in deadlines.
I got very lucky, and I’ve spent the summer interning at a law firm in London. I'm able to work there for three months, gain invaluable experience, and still visit Canada for a few weeks at the end of the summer. It’s been amazing!
Brits and Canadians have different styles of work
A job is a great way to discover more differences between your old and new homes. I’ve worked in offices in Canada, and now offices here, and the culture can be very different. British people have a healthy sense of humour and they don’t leave it at the door when they arrive at work.
You can make money for more adventures
If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you know that train tickets don’t come cheap! The more hours I work, the more disposable income for trips to Brighton and flights across Europe. Enough said?
You can experience a city differently than as a student
Living in London as a legal professional and as a student have been two different experiences. I commute in work wear every day, and I have my entire weekend to take advantage of the city. I can go for brunch on a Sunday morning without any nagging guilt about an essay that needs to be written. There were periods during the semester where I had so much coursework, I would only leave campus once or twice a week. Now I make a point of visiting as many boroughs as possible every week.
Working in a new place can feel overwhelming, but there’s huge benefit to sticking around in the UK during the summer and doing something different with your time.