Working while you study in your desired career or education path while working a part-time job on the side. It is a way to both earn additional income and gain the necessary credentials to enter the workplace, and there are so many options. Finding the right job opportunity, whether it’s an on campus job or something casual, like being a dog walker or freelance writer, is key to being a working student.
Working while you study can be overwhelming to the most multitasking capable beings. The stress of school tests, quizzes, exams, and studies is overwhelming — to say the least; meanwhile working poses many other time obligations and stressors, too. It can be hard to find the balance between attending school classes, studying for midterms, and working throughout the spare hours. However, it is absolutely manageable and highly beneficial as it improves overall life-skill development, reduces student debts, and creates lasting connections. Let’s discuss working while studying more, below.
Why work while I study?
Working while you study can have a magnitude of beneficial health attributes. Creating a healthy income and reducing student debt while studying, is one of the leading pros to working while you study. As students, we look forward to the ability to meet new people, building life-long friendships, and of course, chatting over a beer or two. Working while you study will not only give you the flexibility of financial and social freedom, but it will also instill healthy work habits — which is optimal for character-building.
Pros to Working while Studying
Those who work while they study tend to value money, time, and transportation more than those who don’t. These individuals also gain a wealth of workplace experience and knowledge, which will assist in networking for further career employment opportunities while building a healthy resume and portfolio. Problem-solving skills, patience, and confidence increase when working-while-studying — as students are consistently challenged each day.
- Increase financial wealth
- Reduce student debt
- Greater access to weekend leisure activities
- Increase valuable life-skills
- Increased confidence
- Creates a healthy routine
- Meet new people
- Create future job opportunities
- Build a resume/CV
- Learn new workplace skills
- Learn more about individual needs and wants
- Gain independence
- Better time management
- Increased confidence
- Increased “people” skills
Cons to Working while Studying
Although working while you study gives you financial freedom, independence, and character-building qualities, like valuing money better and improved time and financial management skills, there are, however, a few cons to working-while-you-study, too.
After speaking with a few students, they confessed that being “unable to pick up additional shifts” and having “minimal “break time” between school and work were extremely anxiety-producing and overwhelming.” They stated that they often felt like they were either letting their employer or professor down — resulting in shame and guilt, causing many students to feel deterred by working while they study.
Working while you study can be exhausting. Often, students struggle to find the balance between working enough hours to afford the lifestyle they desire and creating enough time to complete their studies to satisfy needs. Caffeine dependence, fatigue, lack of sleep, addiction, stress, and anxiety can flourish from the working-while-you study, especially when you don’t manage it properly. To review and see more, please see the list below:
- Increased stress
- Increased addiction
- Lack of sleep
- Muscle and mental fatigue
- Increased irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Lack of school completion
- Lack of mental performance
- Missing work or class
- Feelings of inadequacy, shame, and guilt
- Social lack
- Feeling isolated or alone
- Lack of personal time and hygiene
Benefits of Working During College
You learn a lot of skills while working during school, including:
Although hygiene is a daily practice, it is a skill that not many would assume will flourish through working while they study. Hygiene is a necessary tool used in both studying and working. You must always present yourself in the best possible way. Each person you meet could be a potential future employer, friend, college, or connection to another area you require later on — ensuring that proper presentation is necessary.
It is also important to remember that people have five senses — hear, touch, taste, smell, and feel. Humans are all much more attracted, persuaded by, or eager to speak with someone who looks and smells good, rather than not, which allows you to experiment with new clothing, makeup, perfumes, and shoes. You can discover which style of clothing makes you feel unstoppable. Try to keep up your best hygiene, as it will not only make you feel great but often perform great too!
Personal Likes and Dislikes
Awareness of your likes and dislikes is a learned skill too. You often discover likes and dislikes through trying and doing while being taught at appropriate times. Try new jobs, take different courses and meet new people. The more you try, the more you will learn about yourself, which will assure you use the skill of self-respect by refraining from doing the things you dislike, which is extremely important when discovering who you are as an individual and what you desire at this time in your life.
Working most jobs requires some level of multi-tasking ability. If you’ve never worked before, now is a great time to learn how to be an effective multitasker. Multitaskers are the people who are capable of doing multiple things at once, like talking while cleaning, polishing cutlery while cooking, etc. In the hospitality industry, multitasking is one of the first skills you master, as it is an industry that requires you to be constantly thinking of the things to be done. Multitasking is a great skill to develop, as it guides you to be quick, flexible, and effective.
You will learn the great skill of compromise while working — even if you work for yourself from your laptop. Often, collaboration and compromise need to be maintained and balanced with colleagues, employers, clients, and customers. If you work from your laptop, you need the same compromise skills as you are likely serving clients or trying to collaborate with another business, or with the technology by tweaking your ideas to fit their scales.
School projects and assignments often require group or team efforts, which create multiple opinions and perceptions. It is important to hear one another’s thought or ideas to best come together cohesively and respectfully. Compromising with your peers will help get the job done effectively and efficiently as you progressively work together.
You will learn to be much more patient with others as you start to see that we all have different perceptions. How you analyze something is not often how others analyze it. Have you ever looked at a cloud and saw a dog, while your sister saw a bird? It is very similar to that.
Some people require extra time to understand a concept. Hearing, sight, smell, knowledge, culture, language barriers, and lack of mobility are just a few things that can test your patience. Practice your patience by empathizing with the individual, and do your best to see where the misunderstanding is and if they require extra assistance. Don’t be judgemental, but rather gracious and curious about their thoughts and feelings, too.
Punctual performance is an absolute must in the workplace and for your studies. Punctuality is showing up for your classes and work on time. It is best to leave early and arrive at your scheduled appointments early, rather than late. Always call if you will miss your scheduled appointment (class or work) well in advance, as this ensures you are not being waited on by your companion.
As discussed above, being punctual is what will ensure you arrive at your scheduled meetings on time. However, organizing your schedule to attend class, leaving enough time to get ready and go to work, and arriving to work punctually and professionally, will all be developed through learning how to manage your time well.
You will learn an abundance of social skills by entering both the workplace and the student study force. The life-skills that develop through building your level of communication are astonishing. By effectively communicating more (both in school and work), you will gain patience and understanding behind people’s decisions or learn to resonate with someone who may be having a bad day.
Being an effective communicator means utilizing your tone of voice and body language to ensure you are both respected and respectful. Confidence is the key to communicating well and presenting yourself in a clear and precise manner. Take time to listen with intent before responding to another. Communicate clearly without a whisper, using a modest yet soft tone as most times. Make eye contact with those you speak to, as this will help you both be understood and understand someone else better, too.
You will be a great communicator if you listen with intent. Listening with intent means limiting all distractions and fully engage (look at) the person you’re communicating with. Do not interrupt those who are speaking, and ensure you are respectful of their needs and time.
Let’s not forget written skills, either. You will learn to be an all-star typist or journalist with the boundless written skills you will gain. Communicating effectively by using a pen and paper or computer keyboard is necessary when sharing ideas, selling items, resolving a customer concern, or studying diligently for a test. You will likely need to jot notes in class and work every day, ensuring your penmanship and legibility are best understood.
Problem-solving involves being creative, compromising with others, and patiently listening before responding. Use facts, data, statistics, and brainstorming to overcome the problems you may face, and ensure you contact a superior if necessary. Problems are only problems if you believe they are — and it is important to remember that there is always a solution.
You will surely learn that we all have bad days at times. Being empathic through others’ hard times is imperative, as you will be in the presence of people from all ethnicities, ages, genders, etc.
Putting yourself in someone else shoes, so to speak, can change perspectives and help you understand from where that individual may be responding. Did they have a bad day? Do they not understand your language? Do they need you to speak louder? These are all possible reasons to be empathetic, patient, and aware of the people you come into contact with.
Some people you meet may put you down, get disgruntled, mean, or blunt for seemingly no reason, which causes you to be strong in your personality without being negatively affected by it. Becoming resilient is hard but often achievable by remembering that “everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” Use your new skills of patience and empathy to compromise with the individual. Do your best to refrain from being negatively affected by their actions or words, as their reaction Is normally a reflection from within — not you.
You will gain boundless determination to solve problems, meet deadlines and perform well — especially if you are a goal-oriented person. Determination is the force to be reckoned with when trying to accomplish your many tasks at hand. School schedules, work obligations, and social agendas will all be challenges you can overcome if you are determined to do so.
Is it easy to find work?
Finding work while you study is often easier than people believe. Working while going to school is something many employers offer, as they need casual and part-time staff to fill in for varying shifts. Restaurant, retail, and hospitality jobs in school towns are happy to hire students as their business increases during the school season.
How do I find work?
Finding work in your desired career field as a newbie can be a bit more challenging; however, your student services counselor is often eager to assist in finding work in your desired field. Internship and co-operative opportunities (volunteer work) are much easier to attain in your study-field-interest than immediate career jobs. You can find work by utilizing the school mentors, referring to friends and family for job connections, or applying in person. Again, hospitality and retail employment opportunities are much greater top come by, as they can accommodate less flexible schedules.
- Talk to your guidance counselor
- Ask friends and family who may know others looking for employees
- Put your best outfit on, print your resume and hand them out in person
- Look online for job postings (Seek, Gumtree, Facebook, Indeed, etc. all have numerous job postings available)
- Check out the local bulletin boards at cafes, restaurants, and libraries
- Volunteer (this can eventually turn into a job opportunity)
What if I work on campus?
Working on campus is a great way for all students to earn money whilst studying — not to mention, the commute does not suck, either. Campus jobs boast an exponential amount of benefits while prioritizing student needs first. Campus jobs can be hard to attain, as they are often more sought after jobs, but quite beneficial if successful in doing so. Jobs on campus may include:
- Library Assistant
- Mail Room Attendant
- Electrical Staff
- Administrative Assistant
- School Guide
- Teaching Assistant
- Human Resource Assistant
- Food and Beverage Staff
- Cafeteria Stock-person
- Fitness Class Instructor
- Child Care Attendant
Working on campus ensures that the employee knows your school values. They are more likely to honor your exam and study needs, recognizing that school needs often come first.
Campus jobs often have multiple part-time students, meaning that the jobs come with many opportunities to meet new people, pick up or reduce shifts, as well as have fewer consequences if needing reduced hours for a short period. These campus jobs are seemingly the most comfortable with schedule changes, requests, and availability limitations.
The Basics of a Resume
A strong resume/CV and determined attitude are often essential while seeking employment opportunities. You may find resume templates online that help guide you to creating a resume of your taste and preferences. If this is your first time entering the workforce, ensure your resume contains a list of your skills and attributes. Include volunteer work, education, and personal details on your resume. Ensure your resume is neat and tidy, legible and clean — employers often will not look at a dirty resume. Your resume should promptly include who you are and how to get in contact with you, therefore utilizing larger fonts and bolding is often ideal. Feel free to grab the attention of the employers and create a lasting impression, by adding a small, clear photo of yourself.
- Find a resume template (Google and Canva have wonderful, free templates)
- Ensure your name and contact info are included
- Add a summary or objective of what you are looking to achieve
- List your wonderful skills
- Prompt, yet briefly explain your previous work experience
- Add your education history
- Finish your resume with any last-minute additions of interests, achievements, and things you are proud of
- Proofread everything
Resumes are somewhat boastful. Make your resume stand out from the rest by utilizing your creative skills, fine-tuning the spelling, spacing, margins. Keep it neat and tidy. Remember, your resume is usually referenced and looked at again after you leave the interview, making it important to ensure your best assets are featured and highlighted. A simple motto to remember: Your resume is your bragging right.
Nailing the Interview
There are many important steps in nailing a job interview — from your appearance and hygiene to your resume and personality. Things as simple as dirty shoes reduce points from some management teams. People base a lot of their perception on how you introduce yourself and what you look like, making your first impression a lasting one.
A Day Without Stress
Interviews can be very nerve-wracking and stressful. The moments leading up to an interview are crucial for your overall first impression. Ensure your day is as smooth as possible. Do not try to rush to your interview during rush hour traffic, avoid arguments, and allow yourself a bit of relaxation time before meeting with your potential future employer.
Leave early and arrive at your interview 15 minutes before the meeting to show that you value and respect the management’s time. It will also demonstrate that you have good punctuality in regards to future work shifts. The professionalism in arriving early for an interview does not normally go unnoticed, as many e employees will expect that staff arrives 10-15 minutes before any shifts.
Does the company you’re interviewing for have an interesting history? Is the building an old, restored firehall or monumental address? Has the business been a family-owned and operated business for 25 years? These are specific things that employers will be impressed to see you know. Knowing the work hours, services, or events they host enhances your confidence and increases your interview success rate. Employers often praise those who have taken initiative to look up details about the company as it shows genuine interest and determination in receiving the job.
Make sure you are showered, freshened up, and wearing professional attire. Black dress pants (no leggings or yoga pants) or a longer skirt paired with a blouse or modest coverage shirt are “interview” staples. Fully enclosed shoes are preferred, especially if you are going to a restaurant or bar interview. Sometimes, restaurant or bar management and staff show you around the facility during your interview to ensure you have a good idea of the job. Your attire needs to be work-place safe, even if it is just at the beginning interview process.
Talk the Talk
Speak from a vocal-tone level of being proud. You do not want to shout, nor do you want to whisper at your interview. Ensure your words loud enough to be heard by using a precise and direct voice. Use proper pronunciation, and do forgive yourself for stumbling over your words from time to time. Utilize your knowledge by stating the facts you do know about the business and do so with a confident demeanor. Don’t fidget or distract yourself, as that will come off disingenuous and interrupt your conversation patterns.
Lift Your Head
Another way to be heard properly is by speaking from a face-to-face level. Do your best to make eye contact and look at the interviewer when being spoken to or asked questions. Refrain from looking down at your hands or far away in the distance. These are often a sign of disrespect or lack of wanting to be there. You will not seem present if you are not fully engaged in the conversation by looking, sitting, and speaking confidently.
Have Fun With It
It is okay if you “mess up”, stumble over your words or lose eye contact. Some employers are very comical throughout their interview process, as it can be a way to help candidates loosen up. Others are quite “business-like,” professional or seemingly stern, however, often underlying good intentions. Do your best to have a great interview and leave a lasting impression — even if you do not get the callback. You will feel great as you leave, knowing you have done everything you could and presented yourself the best way you were able to by being your authentic self.
I finished the interview, now what?
Employers can sometimes hire candidates on-the-spot, or take up to two weeks to call them back. Other employers may short-list your resume and call you within a few months if their circumstances have changed. You can often expect to wait two to three days for a call back regarding a successful interview (being offered the job) or sometimes not at all if they do not choose you for the job.
If you don’t get the call, it’s okay.
If you don’t get the callback, it’s okay. Forgive yourself, as employers have a magnitude of candidates to interview. Although we often want to believe that there is something wrong with us if we do not get the job, we are often wrong. Scheduling conflicts, needing specific hours covered, not having the proper job experience, or not having the requirements (licenses, certificates, etc.) are reasons for not receiving the job. If you didn’t receive the job, forgive yourself and remember that there are multiple reasons why this could have happened. It’s okay, as there are plenty of jobs to be had. Get back up and try again!
If you get the callback, sweet!
Congratulations if you’ve received the callback! Your employer is expecting great things from you, but don’t stress — do your best on the job every day and give it your all. Ensure you remain punctual at all times and respectful of the employer’s needs. Have an open-conversation relationship with your employer by communicating any needs or upcoming tests and exams well in advance, as this will leave your employer with ample time to make other arrangements. It also shows that you respect both your employer’s time and your own — which is a win-win for both parties.
I got two call backs!
Lucky you, you’ve received multiple job offers. Way to go! If you have two job offers and are now feeling overwhelmed by school, friends, laundry, work, life, and now choosing two jobs — don’t stress. It happens, sometimes, in even larger magnitudes depending on how many resumés you’ve handed out, interviews you’ve done, or the business needs. If you must choose between two jobs and feel immense pressure by letting one down, it’s okay. Most employers are very understanding. Just as they have many candidates for a job, the candidates can have many job opportunities too. There are many things to consider when choosing between jobs:
- Which job suits my hours better?
- Which employer did I feel the most comfortable with?
- Which environment did I feel the most comfortable in?
- Do I have the skills and confidence to do this job?
- Which uniform do I like better (yes, this matters as it is your comfort for upwards of eight hours each shift)?
- Which job could I see myself doing?
- Which job is more flexible with my study schedule?
- Which job is best for commuting to work?
- Do I like the things they do (clothing, food, drinks, business, services, etc.)?
- Would I feel “forced” to go to work each day, or could I see myself enjoying it?
These are all great questions to ask yourself when deciding between jobs. You don’t need to ask yourself every single question, especially if they don’t apply. However, a general rule of thumb is to go with your gut. Use your intuition in making a choice and remember that no choice is the wrong choice.
How to Balance Studying and Working Time
Although students often feel overwhelmed and stressed regarding their changing work schedules or ask for time off work to ensure their study needs are met, employers do want to see their student-employees succeed. After interviewing a few students residing near me, I have been informed that roughly 20 hours per week is mentally and physically tolerable, yet not the most ideal for the bank. They confessed that working 20 hours per week for minimum wage provides limited funds and should often be utilized when living at home; otherwise, you will likely have to work more. One Australian student confessed “although the wage is high in Australia, it doesn’t give you the freedom to pay your bills. Rent is paid weekly and becoming exceedingly expensive in student towns”. Canadians confessed to substantial financial struggles unless they were working for tips (gratuity on customers’ food and beverage bills). They confirmed the hospitality jobs as such were the quickest way to earn more money while working fewer hours. However, hospitality jobs and study hours are normally a recipe for challenging schedule conflicts, though this type of job opportunity may work for a student employee who finds the right employer.
In many states, schools have a work-hour restriction to ensure students can meet both their school and job needs. This was created to promote a healthy work-school life balance. Australia, Canada, and The United States (for example) allow international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while studying. Citizens of their school’s origin work hours are not often restricted but encouraged to be reduced as well.
It is necessary to consider how many hours you would feel comfortable taking on in your role. Practicing your new routine by slowly introducing your work, is a great tool to gauge how many hours you would likely feel comfortable with. However, you truly won’t know until you are on the job force whilst enrolled in your studies. Remember to communicate with your boss about how many hours you feel comfortable taking on.
Splitting School and Work Time
Splitting your school and work time is difficult. After interviewing a few students, I was able to find that wow, it is challenging. Hospitality jobs seemed to be preferred as students found they could attend work after class, while cafe jobs were useful for the early risers on the weekends. Campus jobs seemed to be a favorite for International students, as they often don’t have transportation to city jobs. Meanwhile, childcare and babysitting jobs are preferred by those studying Youth Studies or Early Childhood Educational Courses. The feedback was very similar, as it is discussed below:
Split the Days
Since your daily school schedule will have different start and end times, you can utilize this to your advantage. Hypothetically say you finish the class on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays at 5:00 pm, and on Wednesdays and Fridays you finish at 2:00 pm instead of 5:00 pm, giving you from 2:00 pm onwards to attend a shift at work or study. Pretend your work shifts start at 4:00 pm. This schedule allows you the ability to work Wednesday and Friday after you finish school at 2:00 pm. However, on Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, it would be wise to communicate with your employer that you cannot work in the evening, as you do not finish class until 5:00 pm (which is unsuitable for a 4:00 pm shift). This communication helps you work it out. You can split the days and times of your day by creating half the day or workweek for school and the other portion for work.
Utilize the Weekends
On the weekends, you can work upwards of eight hours, if you so choose. Many students utilize their weekends to pick up additional shifts while studying before or after work. They found that working eight hours on the weekend gave them a total of 16 hours of work, which was enough for “fun money” while being able to fully dive into their studies throughout the week.
Use Your School Schedule Hours Wisely
Study when you have the freedom to study and prioritize your tasks and needs in regards to ensuring all deadlines are being met. This may include passing off a shift to a co-worker or reserving a day off; however, it’s very useful at times. If you have a “short-day” or “day off” from school, you may desire to choose to fill that time with either work if suitable, or a study day if a major project is due.
Discuss all your needs with your employer and ensure they are aware of any upcoming conflicts, major dates, or major duties to oblige to. Make sure the line-of-communication is open, and that you have accurately discussed your needs.
How do I balance my work-school life?
This is a predominantly individualized response that unfortunately, no one person can make for another. Some people thrive off the go-go-go energy they receive from working more than 20 hours a week while studying, while others have said that their studies fall behind if they work above 15-20 hours per week. Realistically, working-while-you-study all comes down to the individual and the individual’s needs. Below is a list of questions I suggest asking yourself before/during or after your student studies are complete, as this is a great learning tool to bring forth with you throughout your life:
- What is my priority?
- Where am I living?
- How much is the rent?
- Who is funding my studies and rent?
- What other financial restraints will I have (groceries, fitness, car insurance, gasoline, etc.)?
- Where is my income coming from (parents, savings, etc.)?
- Where will I work?
- What are the shifts and hours needed at my workplace?
- Do the times of the shifts conflict with my study sessions?
- Am I allowing myself enough time to study?
- How many hours do I need to spend studying each week?
- Is my employer understanding of my study restraints and schedule conflicts (exam dates, reading weeks, etc.)?
- How much money will I need to afford my basic needs (whatever your personal basic needs are)?
- Does this job mentally help me or hurt me (ie: is this job in a thriving environment with a great support network, or is it draining and dreadful)?
Although these questions seem quite simple, they are crucial in ensuring your basic needs are met. This list does not just want you to put your financial needs, nor studies first — rather, it suggests looking at all avenues (mental, financial, and educational) needs. Asking yourself hard these questions is useful in making both small and large decisions, as it ensures one’s overall well-being is being looked after accordingly.
Your study-work-life balance is the basis of your priorities and desires. Unfortunately, no one can decide those priorities for you — they are up to you. If studying and getting your education complete with good-standards and grades are more important to you than having extra cash, then prioritize your studies and remove some of the work hours from your schedule. If you have hefty financial needs to meet (as many students are without any support), then you may have to work a touch more and tell your professors about your financial situation. Sometimes, they can give you a later due-date on certain projects or provide you with financial support resources.
Do not push yourself too hard, and forgive yourself when necessary. School is stressful — work is stressful — and balancing both are unbelievably stressful. No one has it mastered perfectly, even if it seems like they do. Continue to try your best every day and show up with a positive attitude.
Tips for Finding a Job as a College Student
- Do not drain yourself or run yourself into the ground trying to work while studying
- Communicate freely to your bosses your scheduling needs and potential conflicts
- Communicate any work stressors that have come up (bullying, feeling uncomfortable performing a certain task, etc.)
- Ensure your basic needs of survival are met (food, water, shelter)
- Prioritize your studies and future career.
- Find flexible jobs that will work with your hours.
- Search out experiential learning opportunities that supplement your education.
- Ensure your job is in a thriving community and environment to better your mental well-being
- Have grace and be patient with yourself
- Finally, honor your needs. Ensure you are taking adequate rest and relaxation time, study breaks, and working hours to be as effective as possible
Working in college will build your character and create a magnitude of positive resources for you to utilize later; however, your health must be prioritized to do so. Practice the listed tips above and create a method and schedule that works for you and your needs. Congratulations on this new and exciting chapter!