University and a part-time job: a balancing act

Surveys today show that 2 in 3 students in the UK have a part-time job to supplement their student loan. Being one of those students who has a part-time job, I’m here to tell you that balancing university work and part-time work really isn’t as daunting as it seems. I’m going to let you in on my 3 key tips that I swear by to ensure my university work, and also quite importantly my social life, isn’t sacrificed by having a job.

It’s clear that having a part-time job has its benefits, such as well-needed transferable skills that you can use to boost your CV, as well as gaining impeccable time management skills!


Good organisation and time management is really important. Getting a calendar and noting down key dates like deadlines, big social events and work shifts will be really helpful when you are planning how to spend your time. It will allow you to identify busy periods so you can plan Screenshot 2017-01-21 12.26.00ahead in advance and get important bits of work done early. When applying for jobs, regular shift patterns can help, as it’s easier to manage your time when you’re working the same days and times each week. However, the downside of this is that, depending on your employer, having regular set shifts can also mean it’s harder to take time off when you need it. This is why I urge you to keep organised and pencil key dates in early to ensure enough time to get shifts covered. Be honest and realistic when planning out time. You sometimes need to be ruthless. Can you really take that extra day of work or attend that party? There are only 24 hours in a day, and seven days in a week. You can’t please everyone but make sure you look after number one.



When setting out a shift schedule with your employer you should be honest about when you can and cannot work at the start, to avoid causing issues later on. It’s important not to jeopardise your university work because you agreed to work too many shifts. It is usually recommended to limit work hours to 10 per week. The important thing is to take some time to consider how much time you’re able to put in before you give your final shift patterns to your employer – it’s a lot harder to go back once you’ve given your word, so take your time with this. Consider time that isn’t necessarily on your uni timetable such as; essay deadlines, revision for exams during exam periods, family birthdays and also relaxation time. Planning ahead here will save your life. Ask yourself – are you willing to work weekends? Do you only want to work mid-week, and which days do you have uni commitments? Employers in big university cities such as York are used to working around to students’ timetables, so by planning ahead and sticking to your shift pattern will help reduce stress, and looks good for you.

That said, if you feel as though you have taken on too much, and are struggling to balance both uni work and part time work, then make sure you speak up. Talk to your university supervisor(s) about help and also talk to your manager at work. They would rather you reduce the number of shifts then have you arrive at work stressed and not able to perform to the best of your ability.


University is a chance to find yourself, make friends and try out new things – it might be the best experience of your life. Having a job shouldn’t mean you miss out on the full experiences of uni life! By sticking to the two tips above, it means you can easily schedule and fit in fun things that university has to offer. Join that sports club or society, meet those friends, volunteer out at that charity gig. As I’ve said, organisation is the key, and fitting in these fun things will make your time spent at university much happier and worthwhile.

The University has so many societies for you to get involved in, check them out here!

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I am a third year Archaeology and Heritage student at the University of York. Currently volunteering with organisations such as the York Archaeological Trust, and participating in a volunteering project with East African Playgrounds with schools in Uganda. I am also the PR representative for the Archaeology society (Arch Soc).