Many students work a part-time job while at university. Some work during the semester and some don’t. Some students have to get a job and others don’t. It is all relative to your personal circumstances and choices. Personally, I have had a part-time job ever since I started university and I’ve really enjoyed it. It has allowed me to experience what it is like to work in many different environments – from a bakery to an office. I get asked the question, “should I get a part-time job while I’m at the University of Edinburgh?” a lot and honestly, it is a tough question to answer! It really depends on the type of person you are, the workload you have from university (baring in mind that you have to commit a solid chunk of time towards studying and that you will need time to adjust to being in Edinburgh) and whether or not you need to work for financial reasons.
In short, whether you work or not is really up to you. There are lots of benefits to part-time work and a few things that you should keep in mind when thinking about whether it’s the right decision for you. Please remember that the University of Edinburgh recommends that you work no more than 15 hours a week during semester time and I’d strongly recommend that you keep to this, too.
Combining work and study can be tricky at first, so it is good to keep in mind to be easy on yourself. Don’t agree to lots of shifts during the week at first, but instead decide upon only one or two. By seeing how it fits into your life while you study you will allow yourself time to adjust instead of being overwhelmed. Please don’t work during your lectures and tutorials, they are incredibly important and missing them regularly will mean that you will spend most of your study time catching up.
I ended up interviewing a few students at the University of Edinburgh, some of them who are from the School of Social and Political Science. I wanted to know why the had chosen to pursue part-time work, what they enjoyed about it and the benefits that they thought they gained from engaging in this somewhat necessary part of life.
Why did you choose to work part-time?
“Although money isn’t my main motivator, being able to earn a wage and use it towards rent is really useful. For me though, I was able to earn money and in turn learn how to save it towards something like a trip to Paris or Amsterdam.” – Simon
“It was something else to put on my CV, in a competitive job market you always need to be more prepared.” – Louise
“It acts as an escape from the monotony of study, not that study was incredibly boring, but more so that it was nice to have a place where you can achieve different goals which are more short term.” – Matt
“For me, a part-time job was a great opportunity to give back. I love my degree and I’m a bursary recipient myself so it ticked all of the boxes.” – Meghan
“It was something that I considered beneficial for the future, some movement upwards into a more professional environment.” – Hannah
“Working outside or alongside studies gives you an actual sense of earning a wage. For example, when you earn £7 an hour what does that mean in contrast with paying rent? It gives you a page to complete on your CV. For undergraduates, it means you can expand from more than just the basic information. For postgraduates, who are often coming back to study, it creates a complete timeline on their CV with no gap. Furthermore, it lets you contrast theory with practical implementation.” – Postgraduate Student
“I decided to take up part time work due to financial necessity: student finance doesn’t even cover my rent so I would be in serious financial trouble without it. It’s been relatively easy to balance work and study though, especially since I work for EUSA, as they are very flexible with shifts etc.” – Gemma
What did you gain from part-time work?
“Through my position with the careers service, I was able to practice my Spanish (which is part of my degree) in a real environment which is difficult to replicate in conversation classes. I also improved my time management skills as I had to plan my evenings around my work schedule.” – Charlotte
“I benefitted financially from part time work, as well as, hopefully, through the fact that it adds to my CV. It gave me a lot more confidence in terms of leadership and decision-making, as well as increasing my level of professionalism. Also, time management, since I had to balance it with my degree.” – Gemma
“I gained leadership skills, confidence, and experience.” – Matt
“If you don’t know what to do after university, or want to try something you think might be in your future, a part-time job provides a great insight into different workplaces while still gaining valuable skills.” – Louise
“You always think you don’t have time to do a lot during your studies. I quickly found that making time to do a part-time job meant that I learnt that working hard pays off. It gave me a more positive and productive approach to university life. I was able to learn to be professional, practice good time keeping and how to maintain professional relationships.” – Simon
“Personally, I have gained alumni management, overcoming rejection, target achievement, campaign management and project management skills.” – Postgraduate Student
The University of Edinburgh’s Careers Service provides a wide array of information and facilities for all students at Edinburgh. If you’re looking into part-time work I’d highly suggest that you read their guides to part-time work which talk about everything from typical jobs and earnings to your rights at work. They also provide specific advice for International students and Postgraduate students. The Careers Service has been an absolutely wonderful asset for me as a student. Through setting up a meeting with a Careers Consultant I have been given great advice on my CV, how to approach interviews and how to plan for my life after university. Please use all of the resources the Careers Service provide – they are invaluable and helped me immensely when I was trying to get my wonderful internship! The Careers Service also have some brand new online resources and job listings, check them out!
All things considered, I can’t tell you whether getting a part-time job is something you should do or not! It is important to remember that there are both advantages and disadvantages to having a job during study. Despite this, it can also be an incredible asset to have when you are applying for graduate jobs in the future. Whether you decide to get one or not, remember that balancing your life so that you get some rest and relaxation time in is VERY important. Don’t do too much, university is a time to be enjoyed not endured.