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In this article you'll explore the importance in finding the right balance of study/work/social while at university by focusing on the work aspect.
man standing behind a till in a street food cafe
© University of Reading

Let’s be honest. Going to university is expensive, and for many first years, getting part-time work is a necessity. If money isn’t managed well, the financial pressure can be immense and it can have a profound affect on your studies as well as your wellbeing.

It’s important to talk to someone as soon as you feel the pressure, don’t let it grow. The Student Financial Support team at your university are able to offer support and guidance to help you as much as possible.

Below are some things to consider when balancing the work part of your life:

  • Get the right information on your CV. Use your Careers Service who will put you on the right track and give you plenty of guidance.
  • Look at vacancies your university has on offer. At the University of Reading we have a recruitment office, called ‘Campus Jobs’, which manages all the student job vacancies on campus.
  • Check out your university’s policy and guidance about working while studying. Some universities don’t allow it.
  • Figure out whether you prefer having set hours which you work around, or flexible hours that works around you.
  • Use your monthly budget which we discussed in Week 2 and look at how much money you require to help you calculate how many hours you’ll need to work.
  • It may be tempting to work overtime but only do this if you have the spare time. Be strict with yourself.
  • Work during the holidays.
  • If you’re currently working in a shop or restaurant that’s part of a chain, look into a transfer.
  • Find a job that can help build your skills. For example, if you’re shy, you could work in a café, so you’re forced to talk to people to help build your confidence.
  • Find a job related to your degree.

It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed at university and it’s important to consider stressors at university and common coping strategies, or resources which may help. When you attend your university, you should take advantage of the support networks available – this can range from informal support structures such as your flatmates but also your university community such as Academic or Personal Tutors, Study Advice or Student Services – don’t be afraid to talk. Familiarise yourself with the support and advice offered by your university – many will have guidance online and specialist staff on hand to help you.

Ultimately, you’ll need to find a study/ life/work balance that you feel comfortable with and be aware and reflective of this throughout your time at university. Learn to recognise and listen to yourself when the pressure gets too much and act on it. This is an important skill to learn for life beyond university too.

© University of Reading
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