part-time jobs

How to Balance Uni with a Part-time Job

One of the main challenges for students considering part-time work is time-management. You have your studies, getting involved in societies, and a new social life to balance – but many students manage it!

And here’s how you can too, with a little advice from ex-students who did the same thing!

1. Find a flexible employer

There are plenty of great employers who offer flexible work, and employers who hire students will typically understand that you’ll have to balance your work and education. Key words to look out for are ‘flexible’ and ‘part-time’ when searching for job descriptions, but you can also always ask in advance whether they can accommodate your timetable, and any need to cut down shifts during exams or near assessment deadlines.

Lee, who worked part-time in retail during uni, mentions how important this was for her.

“…working part-time in an environment that was specifically aimed for students is really beneficial because the staff knew what to expect from me as an employee. They were willing to discuss working hours and help me choose what works for me.”

“Your employer needs to know that you’re a student because they’ll understand that you have responsibilities to your education that are more important than your part-time work.”

Many students reduce their shifts or stop working altogether during exam or coursework periods. So make sure you’ll be able to do this for when the time comes! (As much as you don’t want to think about that yet…)

Some great, trusted employers who offer part-time and flexible work are Greene King, Premier Inn, Hub by Premier Inn, Itsu, TOCA Social, and it doesn’t stop there. There are plenty of student-friendly roles available on Placed App.

Download the Placed App, set up a profile and start matching with jobs.


2. Plan ahead of time

Before applying for jobs, ensure you’ve got your timetable, so you can inform your employer of your availability. When applying, be explicitly clear on which days you can and can’t work. Then you can plan time to hit the library, hang out with friends and attend society events around your fixed uni and work hours. With a bit of planning ahead, it is possible!

Elijah, who worked as an ice cream server while studying, talks about separating out your life in this way to help manage it all.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who is pretty adept at compartmentalising and thinking ‘now I have a time to do this, and then there’s a time to do that’. And I felt that kind of time management definitely came into play when it came to handling my part time job because I had [it] at the same time as being the president of a pretty successful society, as well as maintaining all of my social relationships … and writing a dissertation … But honestly it was pretty manageable.”

Planning your time each week will also mean you can tell your employer in advance if you’re going to need to swap a shift.

Just make sure you leave gaps between things in case of the unexpected! If your schedule is constantly back-to-back, chances are there’s too much in it.

3. Consider seasonal work or work during holidays

Maybe working during the whole semester isn’t for you. And that’s okay! But you could still snag a few paychecks during holiday or seasonal periods!

Working during long breaks such as Easter or Summer might suit you better because there’s less going on. Christmas buying season is known for needing more retail staff, and hospitality gets more customers in the summer! These busy periods mean more jobs available and sometimes even higher pay rates! Iceland and Lidl are examples of reputable employers that offer seasonal work.

Lee recommends this if you want to ease into part-time work during uni.

“My personal advice is to find work during the holiday period when you have more time… and then once you’re there, you can move onto moving your shifts to accommodate your timetable.”

4. Know your limits!

Sometimes it takes diving straight into a job to learn this, but if you’re already aware of how much you can realistically handle, then this will make it easier to filter out roles and be clear with employers what you’re able to do. Remember, it’s not just about fitting a job with your timetable, but also ensuring you’ve got the breathing space to not get overwhelmed.

For example, knowing you want to leave at least one weekend day free, never starting before (or finishing after) a certain time, or only working a maximum number of shifts a week. 

For Elijah, the opening hours of his workplace worked really well with his lifestyle.

“I chose a job that had a somewhat late start, so the shift began at 1pm. So in the first place I didn’t have to worry that ‘oh I was with my friends until like midnight yesterday’… I didn’t pick up too many hours. I think I was only working two days a week.”

Lee, who also worked 2 days a week during semester, gives her take on managing a part-time job at uni.

“My advice is just to never take on more than you can handle.”

“Understanding your limits I think is really important… It’s easy as a student or as a first-time worker to just say yes to everything, and I think I found I was doing that even when I couldn’t cope with working as much as I was, and everyone has different limits.”

Often, university will be the first time you’ll have full reign of your free time. That can bring trial and error! But as long as you go for it, learn from your experiences and say no when you need to, it’ll likely be worth it!