Juggling work and studying at uni

Fatima Lobocka is a second-year student studying Psychology, who was born in Poland and is half Iraqi. 

Juggling work whilst studying is common with many University students in the UK!

My first year experience

In my first year, I started a part-time job at Vision Express to support my student maintenance loan. I worked on average 26 hours a week – these hours were divided into around 5 days throughout the week.

As one can expect, these were crazy hours to work alongside a full-time degree and it definitely wasn’t easy.

The positives

Despite the crazy hours, I enjoyed my role as an optical assistant. It was very customer service based so I had the opportunity to meet interesting people every day. Further, the working environment was positive and as it was connected to the NHS I was able to learn a lot regarding patient confidentiality!

“The hours were demanding and it sometimes felt like I just had too much going on.”

How I made it work

Through this experience, I learnt very valuable time management skills. I had to create an appropriate study plan which incorporated both my work hours, university hours and social hours.

Although it was tight, following this plan ensured I completed all my commitments and also had time to relax. I believe this skill is now transferable to the working world when I graduate and will help me establish an efficient work and life balance!

One tip I would give from this experience

One tip that I would pass onto students from this experience is that it is always easier to increase your working hours than decreasing them.

Once you sign up to a certain amount of hours your employee and the business will rely on you for your time as you will become a valuable part of the team. Pulling back may be tricky as the management may be hesitant to reduce your hours or see you go. Start with less hours and once you get used to the job, increase your time commitment to the workplace slowly. Asking for more hours later, will be seen as positive and increasing availability is usually more appreciated by employees than decreasing.

My second year experience

As my second year became more demanding in terms of workload, I took the sensible decision to reduce my work hours. This time I worked in Calvin Klein as a Sales Associate and I worked around 15 hours per week. This usually meant two full shifts a week – one during the weekday and one during the weekend.

The store had more employees than my previous role and most were my age and studying! As I created a network of friends there, going to work became less tiring and felt more like a social meetup! We were still expected to complete our tasks but the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed and work hours would fly by.

One tip I would give from this experience

Consider working in a place where you can make friends and enjoy the shift! When studying and working full time, free time  is sometimes impossible to find and so having a social network at work will make things seem that little bit easier.

My second year experience (term 2)

My final experience so far juggling work whilst studying, was my role as both a Widening Participation Tutor and Student Ambassador. My tutor role was around two hours a week and my WP Ambassador role was flexible.

This was by far the most comfortable job I have had as a student, as I was free to pick my hours a few weeks in advance. And the hours I took never finished later than 4pm so I always had the rest of the evening to either relax or study.

These roles required me to assist student groups (usually Year 11) for University taster weeks. This job was very rewarding as you became a role model for the prospective students. Plus, the taster weeks are always packed with loads of activities for the students to partake in and so as an Ambassador you are usually required to assist in these activities (so as one can imagine they were very engaging!).

One tip I would give from this experience

Check to see if your university offers student jobs! These jobs are usually very flexible and offer a good rate of pay per hour. You will also have the opportunity to meet staff within the university and students on other courses.

Read more about Fatima’s university experience.

And read Radiography student Salwa’s experience juggling work and study for more tips and lessons learnt.

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