Student blog post

Managing studying and work while at university

Student Sofia shares how she juggled studying and working while at university.

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It is not always easy to manage going to university when you need to make money, especially during the cost of living crisis the UK is currently going through.

When I first started working as a university student, my main concern was balancing my time between lectures and work, just as most students do too. I was scared that work would clash with classes and that I would have to choose one or the other. And there was a time that I did, in fact, have to choose a shift instead of a tutorial or a lecture because I felt like if I did not go to work I would potentially lose the position.
I understand the anxiety this brings to students and I am here to share my story of how I have made it work for the past two years. Whether you need to work to enhance your CV or because you need the extra cash, it is possible to find a solution that suits your needs if you do the research.

My first piece of advice is for those looking for work hours that would fluctuate each week. The solution I came to was working for an agency. I got sent to work at hotels, stadiums, a supermarket, a multinational firm, a warehouse and a shipping company at my time with an agency.
I enjoyed the work I did there because it was always something different if I wanted to, or I could potentially stay at the same place if it suited me. They had a variety of shift patterns and hours that were extremely flexible and paid very well.
This was a huge bonus for me because I did not have to sacrifice a single lecture or tutorial and I was able to focus on my studying and work whenever I needed it. The con of this would be that some companies only have shifts late at night and there were no buses for me to take to work. Some roles also involved lifting heavy weights, which obviously is not for everybody.

I also tried working part-time for an employer that needed people on and off about two days a week for 6-10 hours total. This was good for a while because the hours were enough to make the money I needed but not too many to compromise on my studying. While it was good at first, when my university schedule changed I had to choose to stay at work a handful of times because otherwise I would lose the shifts completely. Because it was a set job that only needed to be done twice a week at the designated hours, the employer was not able to accommodate my time restraints and I eventually had to leave.

I now work as a volunteer for a charity because I find the work extremely fulfilling and beneficial for my career goals. This also means that I choose my own hours and days and I can be as flexible as I want. While this does not bring in an income, I am still very grateful that it allows me to go to uni and also gain work experience. So my advice to students seeking the same would be to look for volunteer work at non-profit organizations that are based on the filed of work they are interested in because it is an amazing experience as well as a great addition to your CV.

Student voice category Careers, Job hunting