My Journey with Serve Legal - 18.02.21 - Hannah McGeoghegan (for National Student Money Week)
When I first heard about Serve Legal, I was living in Cumbria, studying at college and working in a local bakery every Saturday in order to fund an increasingly expensive social life having turned 18! After taking on my first few audits, I realised this wasn't just a job that could let me reclaim my Saturday mornings (I soon quit the bakery!), but also could get me out and about exploring my local area and beyond.
The flexibility of the work suited my lifestyle perfectly, and when I no longer had college to occupy my time too, I decided to explore other casual work opportunities that I could do alongside. Living in a rural area, I was surprised by how much was available, providing I was willing to travel to bigger towns & cities nearby - my experience as an auditor with Serve Legal meant I was comfortable doing this and I knew it was something I actually quite enjoyed. Through various agencies, I would take part in and even manage product promotion events in supermarkets and shopping centres, attend conferences as a brand ambassador, do leafletting... it varied widely, much like auditing, which I was still doing alongside this too!
This type of work had plenty of other similarities to Serve Legal: there was a high level of responsibility relative to my age and work experience, I could take on work as & when I wanted, and communication with my manager was all done remotely (mostly over the phone). Auditing had helped me developed the necessary skills & confidence to do these things - time management, professional communication, planning/organisation - and as I could prove I'd applied these in a work setting already, I was consistently able to get jobs. There were some real highlights that I will never forget: a trip up to Aberdeen, an event as brand ambassador for Coca Cola, and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Chanel offices in London for a launch event!
At 21, I went to Newcastle for university, where I began to fully appreciate the convenience of flexible work once again. I really wanted to make the most of those long summer breaks to travel, but also make some money, so I worked for the NCS on their summer programmes round the UK one year, worked at a summer camp in California, and taught English out in Taiwan. Taking on roles with significant responsibilities in unfamiliar environments was what I'd been doing since I was 18 - but little did I know this would lead me to adventures in the USA and East Asia!
On finishing university and starting my job search, I happened to see an email from Serve Legal advertising a full-time Area Manager role. I hadn't done much of the non-age-restricted work recently, but I had fond memories of the business and the Area Managers I had worked with, and I liked the idea of applying what I'd learned from flexible work to help new auditors make the most of the opportunity. I now get to work from home and travel to London once a month to meet with the rest of the team (pre-Covid at least!), so even in a full-time job, I still get some of that flexibility and adventure!
Tips for making casual jobs work for you:
Make the most of the flexibility: think about what you can fit into your schedule that you wouldn't be able to otherwise
See the travelling time as a benefit: if you're getting public transport, you could do some uni work on the train or some life admin on the bus! You could cycle or walk, so that you're getting some exercise in at the same time (remember, Serve Legal pay a mileage allowance for this!)
Ask for work in places you want to go visit: for Serve Legal at least, the nicest areas can often be the ones we struggle to complete work in, meaning you may even get a bonus for helping us out!
Have more than one job: the downside of casual work is that sometimes there won't be anything available! Look for things that you can coordinate easily, such as one that's more weekends, and one that's more weekday, so you can continue them both alongside each other (luckily, Serve Legal can be either!)
Build good working relationships with the company/companies: while casual work leaves you flexible to pick what you want to do, it also means your manager is free to not offer you as much work if you are unreliable. On the flip side, if you have a good working relationship, chances are you will be their first call when they have an exciting new project!
Take steps to manage your time: if you're juggling multiple casual jobs plus uni plus a social life, it can get a bit confusing!