I never worked a real job (one that actually had me on payroll) until my second quarter in college. In high school, I remember my parents always telling me that I would spend the rest of my life working so I might as well enjoy being a teenager while I can.
Maybe you, like me, never worked a day in your life and are ready for some independence that comes with working for your money. Perhaps you are paying your own way through college and you’re looking to save a little extra. Whatever your reasons for wanting to work, here are my four tips on how to balance college and a part time job.
1. Do not work during your first semester in college.
This is probably the best piece of advice I received during my Freshman Orientation. You’re going to be busy acclimating to your new college schedule so you’ll need time to adjust and find a rhythm that works best for you. Once you have that down, throwing in an additional schedule for work will be easier to manage.
2. Apply for an on-campus job
The great thing about working on campus is that it’s much easier to coordinate a flexible work schedule that accommodates your classes because your employer is aware that you are a student first and a employee second. Other off campus part-time jobs may not be as flexible which might entail you being on call, picking up hours when you can or working shitty shifts.
3. Schedule wisely
Avoid time conflicts by scheduling hours that do not overlap with your classes while also keeping in mind how much time you need in between your class and your upcoming shift. Maybe an hour gap so you can unwind and relax? Perhaps you need that time to drive from campus to your job? Or maybe you’d prefer a thirty minute gap because you don’t want to sit around?
You might also want consider how many hours you feel comfortable working. Do you have to take more units this semester in order to fulfill a major requirement? Then you might want reduce your hours if you feel you need more time to focus on your classes.
Using a planner to keep track of your work and course schedule will help you better prioritize and maximize time. Have an exam coming up? Speak with your supervisor ahead of time to request scheduling a different shift. Do you have an hour to kill before your shift starts? Catch up on a reading assignment by making a goal to read a specific amount of pages before you have to clock in.
Everyone is different in terms of how many hours they feel comfortable working based on their current semester schedule. While working part-time and going to school full time can be tough, it is definitely doable.
How do you manage full time school and a part-time job? What jobs did/do you work in college?