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School of Geography

Juggling studies and part-time work

So, you’ve got your university placement and I’m guessing by now you have sat down and worked out your outgoings for the year. If you’re not left with something like £35 a week to live off of, then you are one of the fortunate few. For the rest of us, we have to get a part-time job.

There are loads of part-time jobs available on campus for students: you can search for positions using Queen Mary’s Q-Temps service and/or on the Queen Mary Students’ Union website.

In addition, if you need some support with anything career related, contact Queen Mary’s Careers and Enterprise Centre. They can help you in a variety of ways from helping you to develop your interview skills to assisting you in creating an effective CV.

I moan a ton about working part-time and some days I hate my job but deep down I actually love it. If you’re lucky, you will find a part-time job that won’t feel so much like a chore and you might even expand your social circle at the same time.

Now, these are a few of my top tips to manage working part-time whilst studying:

  1. Prioritise your studies. This is a given but I’m going to say it again: PRIORITISE YOUR STUDIES! Yes, that assignment might not be due for another two weeks and you could get away with working a few extra shifts. However, the time will fly by and believe me you don’t want to be awake at 3am proofreading an essay you left to the last minute.
  2. You need to give yourself some time off too. If you can, try and have at least one day a week off. Or even one afternoon if you can’t manage that. In my first year, I worked a ton of hours over reading weeks, the winter holiday and from the beginning of study leave in April until the beginning of September. Sometimes it felt like if I wasn’t at university, I would just be at work. The result, I was constantly exhausted and on occasion made myself ill. It’s nice to earn a bit of extra money to put aside for a rainy day but sometimes the free time is worth so much more than the £30 you will earn.
  3. Learn how to say NO to overtime. This point is as much for me as it is for you because I’m still completely terrible at turning down extra shifts. Some days I’ve got up at 6am to do a four-hour shift before heading into university for three hours of lectures (the result was that my notes from those lectures were terrible and I’m pretty sure I nodded off in the middle!). I’ve even been talked into coming into work after completing an exam. And the crazy thing is, I pushed myself into working these hours not because I needed the extra money but because I felt bad about saying no. You need to put yourself first, and in reality, your manager probably could have found someone else to cover the shift.
  4. If you are struggling to cope with your finances, then talk to someone. Whether that be your personal tutor or someone in the careers department, or in advice and counselling, they are here first and foremost to help you adjust and cope with university life, so do make use of these resources.

Bethany Harris (Geography BA, class of 2018)

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