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Being a Working Student

This article was first published here as part of an internship with Liverpool John Moores University.

So, the day has finally come, you’ve got your start date for uni, your first timetable, you’re feeling like a giddy 12 year old once again and then it dawns on you… how on Earth am I going to juggle University and a job? The answer: it’s actually a lot easier than you may first think.

Since I was sixteen, I have had a part-time job working for a supermarket chain (legally, I’m not allowed to tell you which one sorry!) and the thought of losing my monthly paycheck is just not a welcome one. Regardless of the fact that you’re about to get a student loan, there is still that niggling voice at the back of your head saying that you need the extra money and the truth is, it is nice to have it. Even though I could afford to give up my job and live off of my loan, I don’t want to. I enjoy knowing that I can have nice things as well as having essentials.

So how do you balance having a job whilst meeting deadlines and actually doing all the reading that is required? The answer is to know your limits!

 

LJMU English.png
This is me after a late shift in work. Notice the book about to be burnt in the fire? That’s Paradise Lost.

 

Now I know that everyone has to work for different reasons. Some can’t afford to not work because they get the minimum loan, or they have a family to support among other things, but it is still a good idea to follow a few of these tips.

  • Set a schedule for yourself – when you first receive your timetable, build a schedule around your shifts and your time in university, that way you can see when you will be able to carry out certain tasks and not be ready to throw yourself off a cliff due to stress!
  • Speak to your manager – if, like me, you are lucky enough to work for a company who will change your hours to suit your educational needs, then speak to your boss about changing shifts. In the five years, I have been working, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to speak to my managers and tell them that I can’t work because I’m in uni/college.
  • Do NOT leave things until the last minute – I am the worst person for doing this. I leave everything until the last minute and it is an absolute nightmare. I am the person who you will see at 3am in the library with a pile of books on Great Expectations looking like they are ready to sign on. Use the breaks to your advantage and get a head start on reading and assignments.
  • Take your books to work – during my breaks in work, you can often find me sat in the canteen with a copy of whichever text I am studying at the time.
  • Use social media to your advantage – I barely use Facebook. I hate it. But it has been a lifesaver during the last year when I haven’t been able to attend study sessions or lectures or seminars due to work as you can discuss topics online and you have a record right in front of you.
  • Use your holidays, unpaid leave, whatever your work calls it, to your advantage – it’s a horrible thought I know, but unfortunately, it has to be done. When you have three pieces of work due in on the same night or with three days of each other, there is no other way to ensure that it is done than to take time off of work. Now some workplaces will change shifts for you or allow you to make hours up elsewhere but if this isn’t possible, then there is always the option of the dreaded “unpaid time off”. Sorry for swearing.

So as you can see, although I haven’t covered every advantage and disadvantage of having a job (I have a word count otherwise I would be here all day!), it is a lot easier to work alongside your degree than it might first appear!

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