So you’ve decided to work part-time while studying to supplement your pocket money. Congratulations! This is a great move as you’ll develop skills that’ll better prepare you for the workforce — time management, communication skills and being independent, among others.
But how can you balance studying and working at the same time without failing your subjects? It’s simple! All you need is some determination and a little guidance, so check out the tips below.
#1. Work nearby
If you’re living in the suburbs, it’s best not to get a job in the city centre, no matter how much the bright lights beckon. Why make yourself go through a gruelling one-hour commute to your job when you already have to juggle work and studies?
Look for a part-time job close to home or near your college so that you can save time and energy. Ideal places of employment would be nearby cafés, bustling fast food joints where you’ll learn all sorts of highly-sought skills or at a mall where you can do anything from retail to sales.
#2. Stick to a schedule
Time management is important when it comes to balancing between work and studies. So get crafty and create a schedule using whatever you’re most comfortable with (e.g. phone apps, whiteboard, notebook) to keep track of your various daily activities — classes, revision time, assignment deadlines, work shifts and social events.
While it might initially be a pain referring to several calendars to set up a master schedule, it’ll help a lot in the future as you can quickly scan and identify conflicting appointments or class times. This way, you can also discover how many hours of part-time work you can actually manage without it affecting your studies.
#3. Studies always come first
While work is important, remember that your main priority is your education. Don’t let your job take precedence!
If your responsibilities at work pile up and assignments and revision become a struggle, take a breather and talk to your employer about reducing your hours. A good boss will understand where you’re coming from, provided you give assurance that you’ll be productive during your new working hours.
#4. Focus, focus, focus
If a real estate agent’s mantra is ‘Location, location, location’, the 3 words you’ll be arming yourself with while doing your stint as a part-timer are ‘Focus, focus, focus’.
This means no fidgeting at school thinking about your boss’s feedback on your efficiency at work! Nor does it mean letting your thoughts wander to that difficult essay while you’re flipping burgers.
#5. Don’t forget your homework
Your teacher or lecturer won’t excuse you from homework or assignments just because you’re working, so you’ll have to find the time to do both.
If you’re more of a morning person, get your assignments done after a good breakfast. However, if nighttime is when your productivity levels peak, it’s best to make like an owl and do it at night. Experiment with timing and stick to the most suitable slot once you’re satisfied with the results. If you find that you still can’t manage, cut back on your working hours till you can cope.
#6. Honesty is the best policy
Never overcommit as it can lead to a burnout. If you can’t cover an extra shift or hang out with a friend because you need to study or catch some extra sleep, let your employer or friend know. You can’t please everyone and it’s best to be truthful about it.
Keep your mind clear of stress and you’ll reap the benefits!
#7. Inform the VIPs
Sailing the sea of work and school will be smooth only when all hands are on deck.
Let your boss know whenever you have important lectures, tutorials and deadlines — at least a month in advance! Don’t worry about looking like you’re shirking responsibility, as employers know this is part and parcel of hiring students.
At the same time, talk to your lecturers too. They may offer extra coaching to see that you achieve your academic targets when you inform them of a shift that just cannot be moved.
#8. Plan your finances
Having your own source of income might tempt you to give in to unnecessary indulgences, so straighten out your finances by doing some research on basic personal finance.
Remember to always save at least 20% of your income to ease your worries in case of any emergencies. Once you’ve managed to save that for your future, you’re free to (sensibly) do what you wish with your money!
#9. Treat yo’ self
After burning the candle at both ends and successfully alternating work and school, you’ll be singing ‘Money, Money, Money’ all the way to the bank on payday.
Take a breather and reward yourself by splurging on small luxuries like a good dinner at a trendy restaurant, or buy that game on Steam that you’ve been eyeing for months. What’s most important is that your hard work is recognised!
It’ll take a lot of discipline and hard work to juggle the responsibilities of a part-time job and school. While it might be tempting to give up and focus on just one thing, remember the reason you’re doing this. Be it to ease your financial burden or to gain real-life experience, the endgame is what’s most important. Good luck and all the best!