Education RightPovertyUniversity

The mandatory and challenging working life of university students in Adana

Click to read in Kurdish or Turkish.

Wedding revenue, dietician’s office, cafe, or library… We interviewed some students working in different places about their experiences.

Due to the recent price increases, many students’ income has started to be insufficient. While even basic needs such as accommodation, food, and drink are at exorbitant prices, transportation is another expense that forces students financially. Therefore students are working part-time jobs. However, these part-time jobs take up most of their energy and time. After school and work time, students have no time to socialize, study, personal time, or even sleep.

Students who can often find part-time jobs in the service sector expend a great deal of physical energy. The interviews with part-time working students stated that they viewed the idea of working positively, but they did not get the wage they deserved, and they were subjected to mobbing and harassment. The hourly salary of students working in jobs such as waitresses, clerks, and assistants is generally 20 Turkish Liras. A student cannot even drink a coffee with an hourly wage. On the other hand, students who do internships in the fields they study and in the fields they will acquire are generally given “scut work” instead of gaining professional experience, and most of the time, they are not even paid.

We interviewed some students working in different places about their experiences.

“There is no time to socialize”

21-year-old female psychology student: I work 10 hours daily with a dietitian. I organize appointments, clean, make tea and coffee, do takeaway service, and even apply sessions of the slimming device for the clients. In addition, even during my 10-minute break, my employer wants something from me. I’m completely out of energy, but I need this job. So much so that I even put up with my employer’s constant sarcasm and the lax attitude of my clients.

20-year-old female psychology student: I work in a wedding revenue on the weekends. I use the weekdays to fulfill the requirements of my department, but then I have no time to socialize. So I can’t enjoy my best years. In the wedding revenue, where I work for 12 hours, we only have a break for the lunch break. Most of the time, we are disturbed by wedding guests asking for our phone numbers, or social media account names. Sometimes they find it somehow. But I have to keep doing this to make a living.

“Sleep problem and irregular diet, lack of socialization”

22-year-old male psychology student: I work 6-7 hours daily in a private library for 20 TL per hour. Unfortunately, I have sleep problems because I have to go home late at night. While challenged with the boredom of this routine, I struggle with the irregular diet brought about by my working hours. On the days I work, which are 2-3 weekly, I do not have the opportunity to socialize because I only have two hours left. However, I am okay with studying since I work in the library.

22-year-old male textile and fashion design student: As a waiter in a pub, I work 10 hours daily for 12 TL an hour. Thus there is no time left to do anything for me. And, because we work with the principle that the customer is always right, I have to deal with the unpretentious and erratic behavior of the customers. However, I put up with it because it is tough to find a job.

“I try to study the time left from work”

21-year-old male architecture student: I work 7 hours in a cafe, and my hourly wage is 15 TL. I try to devote my remaining time to studying. But in this case, I don’t have any time to socialize; therefore, I struggle psychologically. I’m having problems with customers with inconsistent statements, affecting my employer’s trust.

23-year-old female psychology student: I work in a corporate textile company. My total time at work is 9 hours, with 7 hours on the job and 1.5 hours break. I work to receive 50 Turkish liras and food per day. My colleague tried to establish authority over me, but we resolved this issue with my manager. My job is to keep an eye on my aisle and keep the store in order. I work by constantly bending over and getting up in a rush. Sometimes my back and feet hurt a lot. At the same time, I distribute a customer satisfaction survey, and at the end of the day, I inform my manager about it. They can give harsh warnings about this issue. However, this situation puts psychological pressure on me. Since I work two days a week, I am fine with lessons and socialization.

“We study if we can find time and energy”

22-year-old female, political science and public administration student: I work as a call center employee of an insurance company. I work to get 8 TL an hour and a premium for each client I get. When customers do not want to receive the consultancy we provide, they speak in rude and harsh language. That is psychologically devastating. Since I work two days a week, I have time to study and socialize. However, since we have a broad age group of customers from different social circles, men and women with varying levels of education, we are exposed to other approaches. Still, for my well-being, I must continue this work.

23-year-old female law school student: I worked in several cafes in my student life. I usually worked part-time jobs for 6 hours daily. I also gave private lessons. I was paid lower than the minimum wage. I am currently tutoring for 4 hours; my fee for 4 hours is 130 TL. Being a female employee increases the risk of harassment. Employers generally think they are entitled to talk to us freely during work hours. They get to say how we should dress or how we talk. When we object, they say we can quit our job. Customers can try to flirt with the servers. When we complain to the boss, we are the one who is blamed, not the customers. According to my observations in business life, unfortunately, my colleagues and I experienced these situations. The challenge in my working life is usually the long working hours. When I worked as a part-time waitress between 18.00-24.00, sometimes I couldn’t even wake up the next day and go to school. When I objected due to the low wages I received, I always faced ill-treatment.

For this reason, it has always been difficult for me to communicate with employers. Our rest time is brief as the work is busy and the bosses consider the employees as a machine. The biggest challenge I have faced is getting tired. Studying and socializing is now very difficult for working students. If we can find the time and energy, we study. However, when we have money for any hobby, we wouldn’t have money; when we have money, we wouldn’t have time. I am currently a 4th-year student. When I was in 1st year, I could go dancing and English courses, but these are a dream for me right now.

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