It's nearly time to head back to uni for another year and you're considering getting a part-time job. Want to know more about what you'd be getting yourself into? Check out our guide to working while studying.

The benefits of having a job:

TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

You might not think a part-time job in retail, for example, would hold any real value for you apart from the income, but that isn't always the case. When applying for jobs after you leave university, your part-time job could be what sets you apart from other applicants with a similar academic performance to you. Working, even in a part-time job, helps you to develop lots of those all important transferable skills that employers are so keen on, such as time management, commercial awareness, teamwork, initiative and organisation.

Having a job while studying also shows employers that you are a committed, determined individual with an impressive work ethic. See, it sounds a lot more impressive now doesn't it!

BEcome BUDGET WISE

one pound coins arranged in a pound sign  

It's entirely possible that you'll occassionally get drunk and a little over excited about the fact that you have a job and become rather generous with your money. But we think that having a job often actually makes you better at budgeting and encourages you to spend your money more wisely. When you realise just how many hours you have to work pay for one wild night out, you might just be tempted to tone it down (a little) and keep some of your hard-earned cash in your pocket!

BE PRODUCTIVE

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to study and work and go to the gym and take part in extra-curricular activities? Because there are people out there who manage to juggle it all! And that’s because the busier you get, the more productive you're forced to become. You’ll no longer be sitting around bored; instead you’ll be motivated to fill your time wisely. That being said, there are only a certain number of hours in a day, so try not to overdo it. Otherwise you’ll just become a sleepy mess rather than a mega productive super student!

THINK CAREFULLY

lightbulb on blackboard with thinking bubble drawn around it in chalk

If you choose your part-time job wisely, it doesn't have to be a useless drain on your time and energy that is unrelated to anything you want to do in life. It could actually be a very good introduction into your chosen career. Or, at the very least, it could provide you with more relevant experience for your chosen career, thus making it a little easier to get yourself on the job ladder when you graduate. If you know what you want to do, it's definitely worth researching what job would be most beneficial for you to have while you're at uni.

Things to consider before you find yourself a job:

ARE YOU TOTALLY SURE YOU NEED ONE?

We know this might sound condescending, but are you definitely sure you need a job during term time? Of course, sometimes it’s inescapable, but if you can get by without a job, consider not getting one. Having a job at university can be a lot of hassle. You have to find the job, fill out applications, go for interviews and when you get a job you have to commute in, find someone to cover your shifts if you ever visit home during term time and learn how to balance it all with your studies. If it's at all possible, you could always consider working during the summer and squirrelling away all the money you can for during term time.

CONTACT HOURS

clock up image of an alarm clock

Try to remember that having fewer contact hours doesn’t mean you have more free time than students studying different courses. That 'spare' time is for reading and individual study. And it could be argued that having fewer contact hours is a particularly challenging way to study, because you have to be self-motivated - which you won't be if you're tired all the time from working too many hours. 

DOES YOUR UNI HAVE RULES ABOUT WORKING?

Although it is ultimately your decision whether or not you work while studying, some universities are quite against it. At the University of Oxford, for example, it is discouraged and you are supposed to talk to your college tutor before taking on any part-time work. Most universities suggest that you work no more than 15 hours per week and although you may feel that you know best, consider why these guidelines and suggestions are in place - you don’t want to overstretch yourself.

BALANCE IS KEY

balancing pebbles on a beach image

Try to remember that striking a good work-study-social life balance should be your main aim. You won’t get anywhere by placing any one above the others and neglecting certain aspects of your student life. It will make you feel unhappy and unfulfilled in the long-term. 

Alternative options:

If you need to earn some money but you’re not sure a traditional part-time job would work that well for you, have you considered these alternative options?

TUTORING

close up of a child's hand writing numbers on paper

Tutoring is a great alternative if you need some money but don’t want to hold down a 'normal' job. Tutoring is a pretty great idea for a number of reasons, but mostly because you a) have the relevant experience (which is not the case with all jobs) and b) because it can be fitted in around your studies. So do a little research to find out how to start getting paid for being brainy and caring!

STUDENTS’ UNION

Working in your Students’ Union is a really great idea if you’re concerned about managing the demands of a job alongside your studies. Your union will be far more understanding about the pressures and stresses you face and should be far more easy-going about allowing you to swap shifts because of a deadline, for example. Moreover, you should be able to fit your working pattern at your Students’ Union around your lectures and term dates much more easily. 

Top tips for balancing your job and your studies:

If you do decide to get a part-time job whilst you’re studying at university, check out our key pieces of advice for making sure you can maintain balance between work, your degree and your social life.

KNOW YOUR CALENDAR INSIDE OUT

calendar/diary on desk with pen and cup of coffee

It’s so so important to make sure you think ahead and know the dates of all your upcoming deadlines and exams. That way you can give your employer plenty of notice if you need to swap shifts or take a day off. It would be a pretty horrible surprise if you found you had a shift at work and two deadlines all on the same day!

KEEP EVERYONE UP-TO-DATE

Following on from the previous point about letting your employer know your uni commitments plenty of time in advance, it’s really important to keep everyone - both your employer and your university (most likely your personal advisor) - informed about your circumstances. Your employer for the aforementioned reasons, but your personal advisor should also be aware that you are working. If you ever begin to struggle with your workload, you’ll have someone who knows all the details and who will be there to support you.

DON’T OVERCOMMIT

stressed man holding his head sitting at desk

It can be easy when you’re at work, surrounded by non-student colleagues, to bite off more than you can chew. Try your hardest to think past the money and any potential pressure from your boss or colleagues to ensure you’re sensible with the hours you’re working. It’s really never worth it to miss classes for work!

BE SENSIBLE WITH YOUR TIME

When you have a job, you don’t have the luxury of spending all your spare time lazing around like some students do! This isn’t the worst thing in the world, as long as you’re sensible and productive with your time. Trying to get the balance between work, study and down time will be tricky, but once you get it, you’ll be flying! You'll probably start to feel more organised because you’ve learnt to get the most out of every moment in your day!

BE SOCIABLE

group of friends on a hike

It can be hard, amidst working and studying, to make time for social activities. Try to allow yourself time to go out with friends, be part of a society and/or sports club and to just chill out. The social aspects of uni are almost as important to your overall experience as the studying! You’ll be grateful to yourself for allowing you to do something you’re passionate about!

RELAX

When you’ve got so much going on and so many different important aspects of your life to keep in balance, it’s incredibly important to allow yourself some down time to simply relax and unwind. You won’t be at your best if your brain is whirring at full speed all the time!

LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

fresh broccoli peppers tomatoes and courgette

When you’re busy and leading a full, exciting life, it's easy to forget to look after yourself. Make sure you’re eating fresh fruit and vegetables, getting enough sleep and take care of yourself if you find that you’re coming down with a cold.

ASK FOR HELP

Finally, our last piece of advice is to always ask for help if you need it. It can be difficult to admit that you need assistance, but remember that you’re juggling a lot and you're doing brilliantly - there’s no shame in talking to your personal advisor about a deadline you’re struggling to meet or cutting down your hours at work. You are only human and there are only 24 hours in a day. You’re doing great and you should totally make use of the various services available to help you!

 

So there it is, our guide to balancing a part time job with studying for your degree. What do you think? Have we covered everything? Have you got any other questions about working while at uni? Or do you have any advice for students considering getting a part-time job during term time? 

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