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Want a part-time job? Here’s how you can balance work and university life

Hear from Erin Mussett, a third-year student of History and English. She tells us about her part-time job and how she balanced it with her final year in university.

Any university student could tell you that student life isn’t cheap. Whether it’s rent, books, travel, tuition, or just the basic task of keeping yourself alive, the costs add up. And fast. For this reason, many students decide to take on part-time work.

It can be difficult to balance your life around university work alone, never mind throwing a part-time job into the mix. As someone who has been there, I’d like to offer some sage advice.

I was fortunate enough not to have to work through my first two years at uni - shoutout to student loans! But I did have a part-time job at Primark during my final year. I worked between 8 - 16 hours a week, which was enough to keep me going. No matter how many hours you work, there’s a certain skill set that will help you reach that elusive optimum work/uni/life balance. 

How to master time management


Time management – it’s a phrase we’ve all heard countless times. It’s a skill that is essential to be able to function as an adult. But it’s not an easy skill to master. If you learn how to effectively use your time during a university semester, your life will be a lot easier.

My best tip for mastering time management is simple. Use a planner so you know what’s coming up. You could use a physical planner/diary or even the calendar app on your phone. At the beginning of every semester, I would make a note of my deadlines for upcoming assignments. I also wrote down when I’d like to make a start on them so I could stay on track with my university work.

Distinguish between your job and university work

You can apply this kind of planning to your part-time job and classes. Block out the days you are working and make a note of any days you may be free. You should also include any classes or lectures you have and make a note of any work you’ll need to have prepared for these in advance. You can then slot this work into your free time.

Using a planner will help you know exactly what you have to do and when. And, more importantly, it will give you the confidence to know that you’ll have enough time to get everything done without your job interfering.

Remember your mental health comes first

When you’re planning out your job and uni work, you should be careful to leave free time for yourself. Working to a schedule only goes so far in being efficient. If you don’t look after yourself and your own needs outside of university and your job, then things may start to crumble.

Of course, everyone's circumstances and ‘free time’ differ. Even if you only manage to spare half an hour a day to do something YOU want to do, it will make a world of difference.

You’ll find it helpful to plan things like a meal with your friends, a solo trip to a cafe or a book shop visit. You could even schedule in some time to watch your favourite show on Netflix. You should take breaks to take your mind off work and university. This will help you destress and restart for the next day.

Never feel guilty for putting yourself first

Finding a balance when you have a part time job at university can be tough. Regardless, it’s important to remember that your mental health is your priority. Never feel guilty for taking breaks and putting self-care and your needs first.

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Photo: Erin Mussett
Erin Mussett
BA English and History