From guest writer Natalie Webster (2nd Year English Literature student and Careers & Employability Information Point Assistant)
Like many students, I have found during my time in Chester that having a part-time job is both financially necessary and a great way to improve my skills for when I graduate. Although working for the University within the UniJob scheme is helpful in terms of having a flexible employer, I still have the usual challenges of working part-time whilst studying: I often want to travel home for vacation periods, my ever-changing university timetable can be tricky to deal with, and most crucially, my degree is always going to come first.
However, I’ve realised that it’s my responsibility to manage the work-study balance and make sure employment benefits both me and my employer. Here are five things which have worked for me.
1.Be honest with your employer
If you’re lucky, your employer will understand how important your degree is, and how stressful exams and deadlines can be. Find out early when your busiest times at university will be and let your manager know in advance. There is nothing worse than realising you have an exam on the day you’re meant to be working and frantically phoning up work to cancel. If you are as transparent and accommodating as possible, hopefully your employer will be understanding and considerate. This is more difficult if you work for someone who is less understanding, but your degree and your health need to come first.
2. Be realistic
You probably can’t have 12 contact hours a week, work 30 hours a week and still have time to study, sleep and socialise. One of these areas will suffer if you do. I normally have a look at my schedule and if there is time that I usually waste by staying in bed too late or staring at social media, it’s a great time to work a shift and earn some money. The University recommends working no more than 15 hours a week alongside your studies.
3. Remember you’re not a student at work
Make the distinction between your student-self and your professional-self. Once you’re at work, it is necessary to detach yourself from your university life. Ensure that you’re not distracted by the essay you have to hand in next week and neglect the work that you should be doing. This is easier said than done, but ensuring that your studying is organised and efficient should help with this.
4. Organise your time effectively
I have found that timetables, rotas, schedules and diaries are my best friends during busy work periods. If you’re working in the afternoon, plan exactly what you’re going to revise, or how many words you’re going to write in the morning. By being specific and having goals, it makes it much easier to fulfil the quota of work you need to do. By the time you go off to work, it may be a relief to stop studying!
5. Remember to relax
The time when you’re not at work or university should not be solely about revision and essay-writing. Ensure you have a good night’s sleep, meet up with friends, go for a walk, and catch up on your favourite TV show. This will ensure you are at your best for all aspects of your life.