Features / Lifestyle Features

Confessions of a Teenage Wage Slave


Money money money. We all use it, love it, covet it, and worship at the altar of those crisp paper notes. As students, most of us are familiar with the crushing reality of debt, especially now because as the summer begins, the loan payments stop. We all know that our loan will come back to haunt us one day but for now it feels ominously like free money.

Feeling alone and unloved without those comforting termly payments, we are thrust into the unforgiving world of employment as a summer job becomes a necessity. I am a student. And I am a wage slave.

Facing the long, hot summer holidays that stretched onwards for miles didn’t worry me initially. Buzzing from a happy, Ziggy’s-filled term, I presumed naively that my old job would welcome me back with open arms, sobbing with relief that I was now available to grace them with my presence. Well, I at least presumed they’d take me back. The recession had taken its toll and I am now one of those students I had to take CVs from last year, feeling sorry for them yet slightly smug as I knew they had no hope of a job. Until I left of course.

Job hunting is a soul-crushing business of handing out CVs, walking around town until your feet ache, awkward conversations with shop assistants who glance witheringly at you and feeling the unsaid disapproval of your parents as you watch Come Dine With Me at two in the afternoon.

Schmoozing with contacts hasn’t worked, online searching hasn’t worked, a temping agency hasn’t worked. No one wants to employ someone who will be running back to York come October.

Through my jealous eyes, it seems as if happy students with jobs are everywhere. Serving me a coffee in an impeccable Starbucks uniform. Folding clothes whilst gossiping with co-workers. Moaning about their long hours. “Give me your job and I won’t complain!” I want to scream, but for now I have to continue my search, struggling to scrape together the money for my rent, trying to find other ways to bring in the cold hard cash we all covet.

Alternative methods of making money

  • Have a rummage around your cupboards, your garden shed, anything that contains the myriads of dusty clothes, unwanted Christmas presents and assorted junk that everyone owns. Somewhere, someone will want to pay money for it, if it’s in good condition. Sell them on eBay, whilst it may not be the most lucrative of ventures, your old clothes aren’t making money for you in the attic.
  • Had something vaguely interesting happen to you? A near-death experience or a UFO sighting? Sell your real-life story to a magazine such as Pick Me Up! or any other of the sort, and if published, you could earn up to £1000.
  • If you’re really desperate for cash and you have a car, sign up to www.getpaidtodriver.com and become a literal driving billboard. They’ll paint your car with the product they’re advertising for a minimum contract of three years and you could earn £200 – 800 a month, depending on the company and the product. Think carefully though – a Bazuka-verruca-gel-mobile may not enchant a date.

Originally published on The Yorker 5th August 2010


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