How to balance studying with part-time work

Part-time work is a great way to boost your CV and earn a bit of extra cash whilst studying, whether you’re a first year undergraduate or studying a masters! However, there are a few things to keep in mind to help strike the right balance between work and study.

Working hours – how many is too many?

It’s important to not take on too much during your time at university. The University recommends working no more than 15 hours a week, but you may look to decrease or increase this in line with your study commitments and financial situation throughout the year – just make sure that you’re not taking too much on! Working too many hours could put strain on your studies, plus you also need some time for yourself. If you take too much on, you may not be able to enjoy the full experience that Manchester has to offer, like nights out with your friends, exploring the city, being involved in a society or sports team, or just taking some time to relax.

Zero-hours contracts

Zero-hours contracts aren’t for everyone. If you’re considering if they’re right for you, start by doing some research and learning more. Personally, I was lucky during my own experience on a zero-hours contract, working in a pub alongside my studies. My manager was really accommodating and allowed me to work more during summer/Christmas when my university life was quieter, and less when exams and assignment deadlines were approaching. Working whilst studying is where zero-hours contracts are useful! They’re flexible and allow you to work the hours that suit you.

Common industries where they can be found include hospitality such as restaurants, bars and pubs, retail, and sometimes in warehouse work, too. The key to striking the right balance when working a zero-hours contract is transparency; be open with your boss about what you can and can’t do and give them plenty of notice about periods when you’ll be working less. Keep in mind that you should not feel pressured to work more hours than you are personally comfortable with. Remember that you aren’t tied into a contracted number of hours so no one can force you to work more hours than you want to.

Study schedules

Something that helped me personally to balance work/study was investing in a diary. This allowed me to set aside dedicated days and times to studying, socialising and relaxing. I was then able to plan my working hours around this and it helped me to find a healthy balance between all aspects of my life at university.

Taking on a part-time job during your time at university can feel like a balancing act, trying to make sure it doesn’t impact your studies or university life. Being mindful about how much you take on and staying organised with your activities can hopefully help you strike the balance!

For more info, check out our part-time job resources.

Written by James Ellis, Careers Advisor (Humanities)