To Work or Not to Work?


Written by Myrhan Stephen: Student Pages Lifestyle Journalist

So you’ve left the nest, and probably for the first time in your life, independence is truly yours. This can be extremely liberating in many ways, but rather daunting in others. Perhaps the biggest change is being in control of your own finances. Most universities have bursaries in place for students from lower income backgrounds, and you can always apply for a loan at the bank of Mum and Dad, but it’s easy to find yourself short of cash, particularly towards the end of terms. If I had a pound for every time I heard a student say, ‘Man, I really need a job’, I… well, wouldn’t need a student job to begin with. Finding a part-time job can be a great way to earn some extra cash, whilst adding some much-needed experience to your CV.

I’ve worked as a Catering Assistant 16-24 hours a week during term-time since I got the job in March. I initially worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but, after struggling to keep on top of College work, I asked to work only two days. Most universities recommend that you work no more than 16 hours a week, some even less, but this depends on many different factors. So here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about getting a student job:

What year are you in?

If you’re in first or second year, you can probably handle a part-time job alongside your studies, assuming you don’t party like Charlie Sheen, of course. But this depends on your course commitments. Many courses only require a pass from first year – your mark doesn’t count towards your overall grade – but if you’re in your final year, you might want to knuckle down and channel all of your energy into getting the best possible grades.

Full-time or part-time?

My course is full-time, which means 19 hours of classes and an additional 20 hours of independent study a week. Apparently I need to sleep as well? So working more than 16 hours can be overwhelming, but it depends on your workload. Some employers are happy to dial back your hours closer to exam times, so you have more time to revise. If your course is part-time, it makes a lot of sense to work during your studies.

Time Management

Having good time management skills is important no matter what you decide to do in life. Having a job whilst balancing your studies will give you great experience for the future. Being organised can considerably reduce your workload at any time. You really don’t want to be cramming for an exam the following week, whilst writing an assignment, and working three days a week. A little organisation and forward-planning goes a long way here.

Those are just a few points to consider when deciding whether to undertake a job during university. If you don’t think you can handle a job during term-time, consider working over the summer to grow your funds for next term. It looks great on your CV in a time when, increasingly, real-world experience often takes precedence over your degree in employers’ eyes.

Follow Myrhan @MyrhanS