A student’s guide to juggling work whilst studying 

Salwa is a second-year undergraduate student studying diagnostic radiography, who moved to London for university.    

As a university student who moved away from home, it was important for me to work part-time alongside my studies.

The jobs I had

During my first year at City, I had a job in retail, working in Oxford Circus.

Towards the end of my first year, I made the decision to leave this job, in order to focus more on university. Exam season was approaching!

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I also had a clinical block of placement (working in a real life workplace for my course!) to prepare for following this. I knew I would be spending 28 hours per week at my hospital site until late July of that year.

I returned to university in September of that year and started working a number of the student jobs offered at City throughout my second year.  This included working as an ambassador, tutor and mentor.

What lessons have I learnt?

Try not to take on too many hours at work. I have learnt from working in retail, especially when you consider the central London location, that there will always be a chance for overtime – if you want it. If you can’t take on any more hours because of other commitments at that present time, there will be more opportunities to come.

Book your annual leave accordingly. I would definitely recommend doing this in advance, if you can. I found this particularly important for the exam periods. It’s also important for your own personal life, so you can take breaks or have time off for any other important occasions.

What are some of the challenges I have faced?

Time management! Working part-time whilst being a university student is not easy, but it is manageable. You just have to learn what works best for you.  This might mean trial and improvement until you find a suitable routine or a certain number of hours at work that is your limit.

Consider your university timetable. My timetable for my course is different every week, so weekends were my fixed shifts, along with random weekday shifts. For me personally, this was challenging as I found that I had to plan when I would go back to my hometown, rather than go spontaneously.

In my experience and from what I have learnt from others, is that the most challenging thing is balancing studying and other aspects of life whilst working.

You have to use your time wisely so you can account for the time spent at work.  For example, if I know that I will be working weekends, then I need to make sure I utilise the weekdays for everything else.

What have been some of my highlights and skills gained?

Being able to drop and pick up more hours at different points of the year.  I liked the flexibility of this; for both my retail and university jobs.  It allowed me to work minimally or not at all when I needed to focus on studying more.  The flexibility, particularly with my university roles, helped me to stay balanced.

It has helped me develop interpersonal skills and grow confidence. You meet people from all kinds of different backgrounds and learn to quickly build rapport.

I have found it to be a rewarding experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities that City has offered in terms of work. From working with young people, peer-mentoring first year students and being part of a prospective student’s journey… it has been a diverse and insightful experience. You learn a lot about yourself and about others too.

Final wise words

Working whilst studying is a reality for many students. For many of us, it is a priority – but it is important to give other aspects of life their due importance.  Stay balanced and avoid over-working yourself. While it is important to plan and prepare, so that you can split your time between studying, working, leisure and your personal life, it is also important to rest.

You can also watch Radiography student Sunbal talk about her experiences on the course and sharing her advice for future students.

Salwa also talks about why she went to university to study Radiography

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