Student life as a business owner

my first year at university

By Nicole Correia,

… my first year at uni: what I’ve learnt

I am not taking a business or finance degree but in my first year at university I have often felt like I am managing my own mini business. So far so good; I have not dipped into my overdraft of my student bank account and risked liquidation, but like many business owners I have indeed lost sleep over a few pounds. Student loans don't always arrive on time which is problematic and frustrating. In such as case, remember that you're not actually a business owner; you're a unity of students, all in the same, very poor state. Together. Once the loan comes in you feel a million dollars and for the first week you are loving life. Love life, by all means, but be aware that your student bank loan is money that you will be working for someday soon.

In my first term I lived for a few weeks without a budget, to understand how to organise my student spending. I'd say this was a good idea because after a few weeks trial you're able to set a realistic amount for food, drink and socials. For those of you who think that home delivery food shopping is for posh mums, you can think again! Often the delivery charge is cheaper than a return bus fare, and if you've not got beastly biceps, you'll be able to do one big shop online and have it delivered rather than two heavy shopping trips a week. You will also get a great thrill about telling a delivery person where to put the sack of potatoes in your kitchen; before you know it, you are a posh mum: 'just on the table please, mind the wine bottles, PLEASE!'

In your first term you will spend lots, join societies and get involved in various Freshers' activities. Be sure that you don't join too many as you won't have the time to do them all! You might well need to spend some of your spare time getting a part-time job – this will help you to become pro-active with organising your money and how much you value it. You will also begin to Google 'student discount deals' regularly before buying something or going to dinner; don't fight it. Accept it. You’re doing the right thing.

If you've worked before uni, see if you can get a transfer, or if not, get your CV ready. There are always vacancies - students graduate, others get bored, some get fired. So there are always new positions for all you undergrads. I didn't have the time to get a transfer into a new Starbucks near uni in my first term but I did manage to apply for a job on campus. I soon began working for a ‘callers’ team asking alumni for donations. Most universities have this scheme and I applied via an email I received. Your email really is vital at university (they bang on forever about this!).

The job was a bountiful £7 per/hour and I met lots of new people; perfect for a university newcomer. The job wasn't the most enjoyable or inspiring, but again, we’re all students in the same, very poor, situation. At the end of the day it was worth it; it'll look great on my CV, I earned over £300, and I've got a few more friends than I would've done had I not bothered.

Now that I am in my second term I have moved on from being business owner/posh mum/telecommunications operator and I am now an estate agent, looking for a place to live for second year. It just never ends. How very grown up.