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Working during your studies: can you do it, and is it really worth it?

University is a huge stage in your life. Learning to live alone, often in a new city and generally having to take full responsibility of your finances, bills and rent payments is a big change. Many people rely on the help of student loans, grants or help from their parents, but some may still struggle with the financial pressures experienced at uni and need a little extra spending money.

Others may be keen to get work experience in, before leaving university with the money being an added bonus. But is it a good idea? As with everything there are pros and cons, and a lot to consider.

What does your uni say?

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Some of you may or may not know this, but not every uni is all right with you working during term time. The university has your best academic interest in mind, and therefore at times asks for you to check in with your tutor before you accept the position.

Of course, they could never stop you completely from taking the job, but might give you advice on whether the position you are considering is the best one for you and your academic life. Either way, know that you will be helped in making the decision and are not alone in it.

The summer/holiday option

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An option that many students take advantage of (and at times prefer) is the summer and/or holiday work. During the holiday period you are not balancing your academic life with your working one, meaning that when the time comes for each, you can dedicate yourself entirely to one or the other; so your work does not take away from your studies, and your studies don’t interfere with your work. It's a win-win situation.

In fact, this option is a popular one, but is only a good idea as long as it doesn’t become more important to you than what you are studying. Also, after a stressful year at uni you have to consider if you can then cope with a full summer of working, everybody needs some occasional downtime.


Time management

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Once you pick your work field, the next big task is understanding the time management involved when you work during your studies (good time management is vital at university anyway). You will most likely not have shifts that last longer than 15-20 hours each week, meaning that you have plenty of time to study.

Organise your shifts based on your lectures, and allow yourself the best amount of time to get from class to work. If you foresee the need for an intense study session, tell your boss ahead of time that you will not be able to make it into work that day - both you and your boss will be happy you have the time to study, and he/she has the time to find a replacement for that shift!  

Ask around

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If you’re still unsure on whether working during your studies is fit for you, some of the most useful advice you could receive, that will help you know if it’s really doable is from students like yourself. As there are a lot of students that work and study, asking around about different experiences will definitely help you understand what the workload is actually like, and if you can handle it with your studies.

You will probably find students that recommend it and those that don’t, but you will have much more information to help you make your own decision. Regardless of what you choose to do, there are many positions out there that fit your needs. You do not have to start working your first year in uni, so taking your time in choosing to do so is also important.

Students looking for a part time job would be wise to check jobsites where they can find a comprehensible list of local jobs available, and filter their search to suit their specific situation (e.g. flexible, part-time, how far you’re willing to travel there, etc). Just remember, your priority must be your studies - don’t lose sight of your long term goals in favour of short term payments.

 

Special thanks to Emily Jones for providing us with this article. Emily is originally from the UK but moved to Italy soon after Graduating and is now working as a freelance writer in Rome, writing articles about everything from travel to career tips to technology.