8 Tips for Surviving a Part-time Job

Having a part-time job as a full-time student is difficult. Between going to class, doing homework and studying for exams, taking a few hours out of the day to go to a job seems a little crazy. Yet, plenty of students juggle both school and work.

Jobs are a great way for you to build your resume or earn some extra cash to put yourself through school. Whatever your reason for deciding to work, here are eight tips that will help you survive the working student lifestyle.

  1. 1. Download Your School Schedule to Your Devices

    While this first tip may seem simple, it will make your life that much easier in the long run. At the start of each semester, put your class times into the calendar of all your important devices. This will help you when you’re trying to figure out what times you can work for your job. It will also serve as a reminder for the times when you get too caught up in work and forget about class. I sometimes find myself focused on writing an essay or completing an assignment, and the reminder that pops up on my laptop 15 minutes before class is what ensures I am where I need to be on time. Many school schedules have a downloadable version online. If not, go ahead and take the time to input it manually. It may take up some time on the front end, but it will save you time later.

  2. 2. Communicate Well

    A major part of juggling work and school is communication. It’s crucial that you talk to your employer about what days you are available and how many hours you want to work. It also wouldn’t hurt to let them know how many credits you are taking at school. This way, your employer can schedule you at appropriate times that don’t conflict with your classwork. If you are involved in extracurricular activities, it’s also important to let presidents and other members know that you are a working student. It may be necessary at times to miss meetings and events because of work. By keeping everyone in the loop, you can ensure that people continue to see you as a reliable employee, club member and student.

  3. 3. Plan Ahead

    One of the first things my employer explained to me during my interview was that she was willing to offer flexible work hours, but I needed to plan ahead. This means it’s important to think about trips you may want to take or exams you may need to study for so you can take time off accordingly. Generally, the protocol is a two weeks’ notice about any time off. However, I suggest putting in your requested days off as early as your employer will allow. This will help ensure that you can have the time you need, and want, away from work. If you have to take multiple days off, or an entire week, then I suggest letting your employer know why. For example, if I’m going on a vacation, I like to tell my employer at least a month in advance verbally. This helps her plan for my absence, and I feel like I have done my duty as an employee in helping the business run smoothly.

  4. 4. Stay Organized

    One of my daily saving graces is my planner. If you are going to be a full-time student while maintaining a job, then you have to stay on top of the assignments that need to get done. I usually do this by sitting down at the beginning of every week and creating a to-do list in my planner. I write down all of the assignments I need to get done, and I include extracurricular work as well. I also list out any scholarships or applications that need to be submitted that week. This helps me have a clear idea of what my week will look like school-wise. It also ensures that I don’t forget about important assignments, papers or exams. This to-do list saves time when I’m trying to do homework between class and my job. Rather than sitting and trying to remember what needs to get done, I can scan the list and plan my work out efficiently.

  5. 5. Plan Time for Yourself

    If you’re constantly bouncing between class and work, you are going to drain yourself. I highly suggest planning out times when you can have fun and focus on you. The best ways I like to do this are either hanging out with friends or going to the gym. During these times, I don’t think about work or school. I only focus on myself. By participating in activities that I enjoy, I can take a mental break from anything that’s stressing me out. So, if you begin to feel overwhelmed by your work and school schedule, make sure you are investing in your own well-being. Even if it’s only a quick 30-minute power nap or 15 minutes of pleasure reading, your mind will thank you for it.

  6. 6. Wake Up Early

    This can be a hard one. When your alarm clock goes off early in the morning, your first instinct may be to press snooze and stay in bed. Don’t do that. Waking up early is a great way to start your day off on a productive foot. If you give yourself some extra time in the morning, you can finish up some started assignments, or take time to focus on yourself before the day gets into a full swing. The more you accomplish in the morning, the less you will have to do at night when your motivation and stamina are gone.

  7. 7. Check Your Work Schedule A Few Times A Week

    This may seem like overkill, but it will keep you on good terms with your employer. If you are checking your work schedule multiple times throughout the week, then you are more likely to be on time for your shifts, and you are less likely to forget about them. It will also help you when you are trying to make plans around your work hours. Sometimes employers might make changes to the schedules as well, or they might mess up and schedule you over your availability. By constantly laying eyes on your schedule, you’re ensuring that you and your employer are creating a working environment that benefits both of you.

  8. 8. Pick Up Extra Shifts (Sometimes)

    One of the lessons I learned between working in high school and working in college is that it’s ok to say no. However, you also need to say yes from time to time. There will be times when employers ask you to come in on days that you weren’t originally scheduled for. When I was younger, I felt like I was obligated to always say yes. But, this made it hard for me to have a social life in high school because I was always working. Now that I’m in college, I’ve gotten more comfortable with saying no. If I have already made plans, or I have a legitimate reason for not coming into work, I don’t break my plans in order to make it in upon request. Yet, there are times when I go into work with only a few hours’ notice because I want to help. This lets my employer know that I am part of the team, and I am willing to put in a little extra effort. It also pays off when the time comes that you need off work at the last minute. If you help your employer, they will help you.

Having a part-time job while going through school poses challenges. You have to be organized and thoughtful while still being a normal college student. There are also benefits. By having a part-time job, you can save up money, and gain experience in the workforce. It is also an excellent opportunity to make new friends and build connections. If you are thinking about getting a part-time job or you already have one, don’t feel overwhelmed. Use these tips to help you. Just keep calm, and plan on.