Girl and a Puppy at a wellbeing event.

January 16, 2024, by avyzw1

Working part-time alongside a degree: tips and advice

by Zoe Waite, liberal arts student

Balancing full-time study, new adult responsibilities and a social life is already a mammoth task never mind adding a part-time job into the mix. From hospitality to online tutoring, students are taking on a huge range of roles to support themselves as the cost of living crisis continues.  In my first year, I worked during the summer and winter breaks and I took on part-time work throughout my second and third year of study. Here are my tips on how to manage a part-time role and make the most of the experience.

Plan your time

Organisation and time management are some of the most important factors in balancing any busy schedule. It also ensures you are aware of how much time you can give to a role without sacrificing other areas of your life. I use Outlook calendar to block out time when I am working and in lectures so I can visualise my week and see when I will have time to work on assignments or applications. It is also important to consider the implications of when you work, for example, after a long shift I won’t be as motivated to work on my coursework so blocking this time to study will not benefit myself and my work. Everyone works differently and understanding when and where you work best is a skill that helps to utilise your free time. 

Set boundaries 

Knowing when to say no to the extra shifts or not stay late is hard and something I have particularly struggled with, I want to show that I am hard-working and reliable. However, more than a few times I have found myself rushed off my feet. As a result, my grades, well-being and relationships have suffered which then begins to affect my performance at work, ironic isn’t it? Coming into my final year as a working student I am now so much better at understanding when and how to say no.

Looking forward, if you are offered increased hours or additional responsibilities, such as over Christmas, but your timetable is very deadline heavy, you should not sign up for as many shifts. Instead, let your employer know in advance that you will be less available during this time or unable to pick up over time. This prevents your grades from slipping due to overworking yourself. As well, the employer will likely be more sympathetic to your circumstance if you inform them with plenty of notice and will more likely honour any requests.

However, if work is causing strain or stress, I would recommend that you raise this with management. Your management team might be able to put measures in place such as reduced hours or reduced responsibilities to help you manage, you are here to study and excel in your degree and this should be your priority. If you need additional support the university has a number of services available. For example, The Chaplaincy, which can be used by anyone regardless of faith (or no faith), other services within the university include the Careers Service, Nightline, faculty wellbeing teams and Cripps Health Centre.

Utilise your job in your career

Working alongside your degree, when done right, can be extremely rewarding. Not only do you get a network of colleagues, you also develop soft skills and real-world experience which look great on any CV. After university, I am considering a career in social media or marketing and have used my roles with ResX and other organisations to take opportunities in social media and increase my experience, portfolio and knowledge.

Balancing work and studies might seem like an impossible feat, but it can be done. With dedicated planning, efficient communication, and a willingness to seek help, you can create a schedule that empowers you to excel in both academics and your chosen field. Don’t let fear or self-doubt hold you back. Embrace the challenge, believe in your abilities, and remember, sometimes the most rewarding journeys are the ones that require a little (or a lot) of juggling. Now go forth and conquer!

If you are looking to take on some additional part-time work visit the Careers website for advice and support.

Posted in Student Bloggers