Work and study mix

“Oh sure, the student life: at lectures in the morning; delivering pizzas in the evening.» Yiannis is one of thousands of Greek students who spend their time not in cafes and bars but on motorbikes delivering pizzas, doing office work or giving private tuition. They cannot afford to wait until they have graduated before joining the work force to help themselves and their families. Yiannis is a second-year student of philosophy and has very little free time. «I always wanted a carefree student life, but that probably isn’t going to happen,» he told Kathimerini. When he came to Athens from Crete, he immediately began looking for work. «I had to get some pocket money, at least. My parents couldn’t even afford to pay for my coffee.» So for the past two years, while studying, he has delivered pizzas, given private tuition, and done baby-sitting along with many other jobs. Nadia, 23, is another working student. We met her in Syntagma Square, where she was handing out advertising flyers for a slimming institute. «I’m in the third year of law school, so I have a very demanding schedule. But I needed money so I looked for a part-time job. I don’t mind losing my free time; in any case, I don’t like sitting around, and how much time can you spend in cafes?» she says, laughing. Some 20 percent of students work, says Violetta Moustakali, head of the Contact Office at Athens University. «There are also lots of students who would like to work but who can’t because of class times. When they have lessons in the morning one day and in the evening the next, it’s even more difficult,» she explained. Moustakali says students mainly work for financial reasons, rather than to gain experience. «Of the students who come to the Contact Office, most are looking for ways to help their families financially. They are mostly students who have come to Athens from the provinces and are paying rent.» Many seek work when they realize that their studies are taking longer than expected. But without degrees and with university taking up a lot of their time, students can only look for part-time work. «They usually want to work as agents for insurance companies, security guards, or as secretaries in legal offices if they are law students,» said Moustakali. Baby-sitting, delivery work and private lessons are in high demand. Unemployment has affected the student job market, Petros Bakopanos, head of the Student Job Search Office at Athens University, told Kathimerini. The office has been in operation since 1966 and has created a network of employers (such as legal offices, notaries public, banks, publishers and tuition colleges) that approach it when they want staff. «In the past I was able to help hundreds of students every year, but in recent years there haven’t been as many job offers from employers,» said Bakopanos. But supply is high. In the past month alone, more than 150 students have filled in application forms. «And not only students, but graduates,» he added. «That’s unemployment.»