It can be a struggle to balance a full-time education with a work schedule. This can be a monumental task for those studying internationally – life can be hard enough when you need to learn a new language, locality, and culture without the added burden of finding a job.
In spite of the potential barriers, it is possible to do it and do it well. By maintaining a positive attitude and staying motivated, you absolutely can succeed in finding a suitable part-time job to boost your college funds.
Check out our tips and guidelines to start down the path to success.
1. Finding a Job
If it’s your first time looking for a job in a new country (or at all), you may be unsure of where to even start. However, there are lots of avenues available into the working world – here are some good starting points:
- Get linked in with your Students’ Union. Many Unions will keep an online database of ad-hoc or term-time work available in the university and local area. Sign up to their mailing list and don’t be afraid to enquire at the reception in person.
- Start knocking on doors. Even though a shop or restaurant may not be advertising work, it is worth dropping in to hand a CV to the manager. They’ll keep your résumé on file for when vacancies arise and if you make a great first impression, they might even find a job for you now!
- Don’t wait until the last minute to apply for seasonal jobs. Many sectors require extra staff at Christmas time and during summer vacation so apply for these vacancies well in advance.
- Look for alternatives to traditional employment. There are lots of ways to make money if you are willing to put in a little time and initiative. Take surveys, become a mystery shopper, write or create art as a freelancer, tutor students in your field of expertise, offer language lessons – the options are endless.
- Create a fantastic CV and cover letter. If you find this difficult, you may want to get in contact with writers’ houses which can offer professional support and advice.
- If you are invited to interview, make sure to put time into preparation. Research the company, become familiar with the job description and person specification and emphasise your qualifications and transferable skills. Show enthusiasm and be yourself!
2. Develop a Support Network
There is no need to figure this out on your own. You are much more likely to succeed if you have a solid support system in place. Learn from your co-workers and ask for help and advice when you need it.
Get in contact with your lecturers or drop in on the Welfare Officer in your Students’ Union. Carve out time to spend with your loved ones and surround yourself with people who want you to achieve your goals.
3. Use Your Time Wisely
Combining a job with your studies is a big undertaking, but with good organisation will keep you on the track to success. Follow these steps to become a master of time management.
- Keep track of rotas, deadlines and other events with a calendar or diary. Whether you choose an electronic or paper version, you need to stay on top of your schedule. This might be colour coding or setting alerts on your phone – find what works for you.
- Figure out what is needlessly taking up time. Are you getting caught in traffic on the commute? Consider leaving an hour earlier to give yourself back that extra time. Do you find yourself drifting onto Facebook when you should be studying? Install an app to block social media sites during certain hours of the day. When your time is limited, make sure to use it wisely!
- Increase your productivity by bringing work and school with you. Use your lunch break to listen to lectures or study for a quiz. Get your paperwork done on campus. Plan ahead to make efficient use of your time.
4. Be Open and Transparent
It is better for everyone that you are open about your boundaries and restrictions. Let your classmates and lecturers know that you work and make sure your employer understands that you are studying.
There is nothing worse than taking on too many commitments and then being too overwhelmed to fulfil them.
5. Set Realistic Goals
Know the expectations of your course before you commit to an international program. Email the module director to find out how many hours are required per week, what the workload entails and how feasible it will be to hold down a job on top of your studies.
Remember, there are not so many hours in a day and self-care is essential. If you are going to survive your degree program while working, it’s okay to turn down an extra shift or have a peaceful night in instead of going clubbing. You can’t do anything if you run yourself into the ground.
6. Be Flexible
The world is not black and white. Things will not be perfect all the time and that’s okay. Learning to be flexible and resilient is key, if you are going to enjoy college experience without driving yourself insane.
7. Keep Everyone in the Loop
Employers know that students need to meet academic requirements and are usually supportive of their staff. Keep your workplace up to date with important deadlines and classes that you can’t afford to miss in order to avoid clashes.
Stay on track with your academic targets by talking to your professors, if you feel you are falling behind.
8. Plan Out the Logistics
Make your schedule work for you. Take online classes. Choose the most efficient commute. Don’t end up in the situation where you have fifteen minutes to make it from your lecture to your job on the other side of town.
Planning out the logistics of your life will reduce the stress of such a busy schedule.
9. Remind Yourself Why This Matters
A third level education is expensive. Books, tuition and transportation costs add up so focus on your long term goal. When the going gets tough, reflect on why this will all be worth it in the end.
You may be under financial and professional strain right now, but soon you will be able to smile, diploma in hand, and know that you have succeeded.
Don’t be put off by the idea of working while you are in university. Through planning, time management and using the resources that are available to you, it is possible to flourish and thrive in your college and workplace.
Put in the effort, be ruthless with your time and create a supportive and encouraging environment around you and you are sure to meet your goals.