Working part time while studying can be scary and overwhelming but sometimes it’s necessary, like when you move to London at 21 to go to school and spend your savings on tuition alone. Working part time alongside my studies could be challenging at times but like everything in life it’s about finding the right balance. Part of me is extremely grateful that my visa put a limit on my weekly hours because it made sure I didn’t bite off more than I could chew, especially when it came to dissertation time. But not everyone is on a student visa so be smart, do not take on more than you can handle, know yourself and what you can and can not accomplish. Remember you’re only one person.
Am I even qualified to tell you about this? I don’t know, I’m sure there are more qualified people, people who can say they’ve worked this and that job while being a student but quantity doesn’t make you an expert. I’m not saying I am an expert but I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to organisation and balance. Right, so what’s my advice?
CAN YOU ACTUALLY HANDLE A JOB?
As an undergrad I worked as a part-time tutor and it used to blow my mind the number of people who were struggling with school simply because they didn’t have time to study due to work obligations. This is a no, no. Your job shouldn’t interfere with your studies, that’s the whole reason you got the job! If you’re not sure, wait until you’re on break or work during holidays and learn to budget the money you make during that time. Bad at time management? Think long and hard before getting a part time job while a student. Think you don’t need sleep because you’re young and you can do anything, think again, your body needs sleep and it needs you take care of it so please I beg of you, don’t put that before anything else.
PLAN YOUR SCHEDULE ACCORDINGLY
I know that you might not have 100% control over your classes because of requirements etc but you can still be a good planner. If your job requires long shifts it’s probably not a good idea to spread your classes over the whole day. Try to aim for back to back and similar days. Yes it will mean long days of classes but it also means you don’t need to be rushing to and from work and school risking being late to both.
WORK ON CAMPUS (OR CLOSE)
This is probably a no brainer but it’s because it just makes sense. You might be limited in hours, but as I said before that might not be a bad thing. It’s also still great work experience while at a good location, chances are you’re already there so saves you from unnecessary travel costs. There are times when I actually turned down temp work for the day because the travel costs were more expensive than the few hours I’d be covering reception so it wasn’t worth it. All in all be smart about where you work.
WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS
I said it before but holidays are a great time to work because you don’t have any classes and weekends too. Yes, you will lose a little free time but hey it’s extra money and extra money is good.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
I don’t think I can say this enough, know your limits! Working while also attending classes, studying, writing essays, researching, it can be exhausting and I’m speaking from experience. If you ever feel yourself slacking or think you might start pulling your hair out because you’re so stressed then you need to step back and reevaluate. Chances are your employer will be willing to cut your hours a little if you need the extra study time or want to join a study group that requires you to leave work an hour early twice a week. Just talk to them and be honest, I’m sure some solution can be reached to save you from losing your mind and falling behind.
As an undergrad I worked about 10-15 hours a week on top of 18 hours of classes, so I was very busy but it worked. During my Masters I worked the maximum for my visa at 20 hours, alongside my 9 hours of lectures a week, and it was a good fit. If you’re thinking about getting a part-time job alongside your studies, start small, try 10 hours a week and build from there. Unless you have a light load I would say 20 hours is a good capping point because you do need to sleep sometime.
Read this post and other stories on Staci’s personal blog