Working hard, playing hard: How to balance working a job alongside your studies at Exeter

Part time job vs. university: The Real Fight Night

Thinking of taking on a part time job to fund your upcoming Christmas socials? Struggling to juggle your personal life and university demands alongside your current job? Can’t say we blame you. The days are getting colder and shorter and it’s easy to feel like time is slipping away faster than your maintenance loan. But here are five lifesaving tips to help you with managing your time effectively when working a part-time job alongside university without losing your mind.

1. Be clear and honest from the start about the hours you are willing to work

This is by far the most crucial piece of advice that you will ever receive when it comes to working a part-time job when also at university. When you first start, it’s important to be honest about the hours you are able to work and to establish clear boundaries with your supervisor about them. For example, if you’re contracted for eight hours a week but you are willing to pick up more shifts, have a maximum number of hours in mind when you offer to do more to avoid accidentally signing yourself up for 20 hour weeks. It’s easy to feel pressured to take on more shifts at the cost of lectures/socials, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to. Don’t forget that your pat time job is exactly that: part-time. So try not to lose sight of the other parts of your life, especially during your university years – as your graduated friends and siblings alike will constantly remind you, while they cry into their salaries, they’re going to be some of the best days of your life.

2. Don’t do a job you hate

Working is hard enough without despising the job you do – don’t make it harder for yourself by choosing to work somewhere that grinds your gears. It’s unlikely that Starbucks on campus will be your dream job if you don’t enjoy a fast-paced environment – I swear those baristas are superheroes. If possible, try to work for a company that has products you like, values you share and ideally a shop floor that isn’t too offensively decorated, as you’ll be spending a fair amount of time there…

3. Pick a job with shifts that work with your established routine

Work out what time in the week/day is the most valuable to you and try to avoid compromising on this with your shifts. For some people, it might be that having free evenings is the most important thing to you (perhaps you’re not willing to surrender your status as a TP warrior just yet…) In this case, working in a shop that closes at 6pm would be a good compromise. Equally, bar work might be the more acceptable solution for you if you have busy days. Be clever about your time and remember, it’s yours to use.

4. Consider a holiday job to avoid working alongside uni

If you’ve done the above and you’re still struggling to fit work, uni and your own time into the week, it might be worth considering taking on a seasonal job. Working over the summer and Christmas holidays avoids compromising your uni experience for the sake of a part time job without completely surrendering the financial gain; cost of living crisis and all that.

5. Treat yourself

Work can be an added stress to an already-stressful time in your life, so if possible, try to make use of the staff discounts – and your wages – in a way that’s rewarding. Obviously, I’m not advising an obligatory spending spree every time you get your pay-check, but it doesn’t hurt to put a little bit aside for something you’re saving up for, whether that’s holiday money, the new apple headphones or summer festival tickets. Not only will this keep you motivated, but when you do get round to buying it, you’ll feel a twinge of pride; all those hours spent dealing with the general public were worth it after all.

Ultimately, my golden nugget of advice for you all is this:

Look for a job that works for you, not you for it.

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