How to Combine Studies and Work? – 7 Experience-Based Learnings

Student’s life, many say, is the the most beautiful time in your life. If you moved away from your parents home to pursue higher education in a bigger city, you feel unlimited freedom for the first time. Everything is under your control. You have thousands ideas… just the money might not be there.

When I undertook my studies in the Netherlands I had to start my first real job to make ends meet. I found a position in a supermarket chain in a city where I lived, which was 60 km away from my university and just thought… how the hell will I manage? Working, attending the classes and learning? The beginning was bitter, but a litter of tears shed later, I learnt how to combine studies and work and still manage to have time for myself. So how did I do it? I sticked to couple of rules:

  1. Be transparent and honest to your employer

    Be honest about your situation. While applying for jobs state at the beginning that you are looking for a part-time job as you are still a student. You can write in your motivation letter or resume how many hours you are able to work a week. When you get accepted the best thing to do is to show your schedule to your boss and agree on a weekly plan that will meet your and your boss’s needs. The same applies to your lecturers, they might be more sympathetic if they know they’re dealing with a working student.

  2. Don’t miss your classes and be present 

    Do not work during timetabled classes. Don’t allow yourself to miss lectures, it will be difficult to keep up with the programme if you are not attending. While working you have less time at home to repeat the studies materials. So be present and focused during your lectures. Try to make good notes and listen carefully. It will save you time later on.

  3. Prioritize: Studies over work

    Remember what your long distance goal is: graduation. So don’t overcommit yourself. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to extra hours. As long as you fulfill your duties at work, you are on a safe side. Let your employer know, when you have the exam period and ask for some holidays to prepare for it.

  4. Be consequent and mange your time wisely

    Repeating material on a regular basis might help you keep balance in your life. Learning a night before the exam is stressful and not very effective. Use your time efficiently. For instance during my bachelor’s studies I read many books on a train. If you driving or cycling to work or university, create an audio with your studies materials and use your travel time to review.
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  5. Plan your week in advance and stick to your schedule

    It might be a good idea to invest in a nice calendar or use an electronic version to keep track of your weekly schedule. You can not only place there your professional commitments but also include private meetings and free time activities to feel more in control.

  6. Get some rest

    Working and studying at the same time is exhausting, so remember to get some rest. Try to sleep at least seven hours and eat and water yourself regularly. Your mental health is as much important as your physical health so you mustn’t make light of it. Tip: you can combine some of your leisure activities and social ones to save time, e.g. invite your friend for a swimming classes, or play together tennis.

  7. Keep track of your work experience

    Even if your job during studies is not the job of your dreams, keep record of your work certificates. You can proudly put it in your resume and use it as an example of mastering multitasking, prioritizing and managing yourself and your time effectively. Your part-time job might also equip you with some experience and skills that might enhance your job search and position in the market.

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