How to balance university with a job

I have mentioned getting a part time job as a way to boost your future career prospects and an additional source of income to finance you studying abroad. And I think it’s one thing that everybody should do at some point in their life. If you spend your twenties relying on your parents’ help you’re losing a major opportunity for gaining life experience and, basically, successfully learning how to “adult”. But to balance university with a job can be a hard task. That’s why I decided to put together some of the things I learned along the way.

Going from Poland to the UK to study is some seriously costly endeavour. But I have all the support I could wish for from my family. The amount of support my parents and my whole family give me is tremendous. Still, as soon as I landed in Scotland I began a search for a part time job. And oh my- was that an adventure.

But let’s get back to balancing university and a job. In some countries it will be easier to get a job and fit it into your busy university schedule and in others it will be harder. Most of my friends who study in Poland have much more hours of class than I have in the UK. That is because the British system relies more on the students’ self-study time. But many of them still find the time to have a part-time job- as a waiter, nanny, tutor, translator, etc.

I have around 10-11 hours of class a week. This allows to easily fit 20 hours of work in a week, sometimes up to 30. It wasn’t easy at the beginning as I was completely new to all these responsibilities. But I quickly found out some of the keys to successfully balancing university and a job.

Get your priorities straight

University is your priority. You came to this place to study and your “job” as a student is always in the first place. Be aware of all the assignments and exams coming up and plan your work around them. If you know you have to study for an exam next week don’t take extra shifts at work. As long as you also make an effort to budget responsibly, one shift should not make a difference. Also, do not take up any job that clashes with your classes from the beginning. You will fall behind and it is not worth it.

university with a job


Know yourself

I like working with people. I mean, maybe it is strange, but I enjoy waitressing because I genuinely like the contact with the customers. However, I know people who would absolutely detest working with customers because, let’s be honest, it’s not always unicorns and rainbows. And that’s ok. I could never be a nanny because I’m clueless when it comes to entertaining kids. The key is to know your strengths and weaknesses and look for something according to those.

Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know what you prefer. Try something and find out.

Remember to recharge

We’re only humans and even if you feel like you need all the money in the world, don’t take on too many hours. That’s related to prioritizing, but you also sometimes have to prioritize getting some rest and unwinding. Find the time for the leisure activities and the things that make you happy. For me that’s exercise, travelling and seeing my loved ones, among other things. Find the time and energy to be a student- spend time with friends, relax in the park or travel to a nearby city to explore.

If possible, get a job where you get tips

university with a job


Well, this is just practical. After all, I mainly have a part-time job to make money to support myself. So if I can get a job where they pay something extra than just the basic wage it makes a difference for my student budget. I’ve worked in both kinds of places and I can absolutely say that tips make all the difference in the world.

Do you think getting a job at university is a good idea? What are your ideas for making it work?

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