Student Life

How I Handle Part-Time Work and Academic Life

Can you have it all? Find out how to balance your commitments.

By Cherish Recera, Student Contributor

April 17, 2019

How I Handle Part-Time Work and Academic Life
I work as a part-time consultant in the Writers Workshop at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Working 5 hours per week may not sound like part-time, but hourly consultants like myself are given the option to work anywhere between 5 to 10 hours per week. I recognize that having the option to select my own hours won’t be applicable to everyone; in fact, most university-related positions have set work hours and aren’t as flexible as my consulting position. However, taking over 18 credit hours and balancing my consulting position is certainly relatable since it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed. Having a part-time position in college is valuable, at least in my experience. It genuinely drills in time management skills since you can’t do your own work while you’re in the office. I purposefully chose to work Sundays for 4 hours and Fridays for 1 hour because it allows me to space out my academic work in a reasonable way while also giving me the student luxury of sleeping in on the weekends. On Fridays, I walk straight from lecture to work for my hour-long shift. Sundays are less rushed since I can sleep in until 11AM, shower, eat, and get myself ready for my 1-5PM shift. My actual homework and studying get done between Monday and Saturday, so Sunday acts as a relaxation day even if I do have to go to work.
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“So you have to do your academic work 6 out of 7 days a week?” Well, yes and no. I get piled with plenty of readings, essays, and projects for my degrees, and completing my minor means I need to solve machine problems and Python labs. My workload is variable since it changes every week. Some weeks I have over 200 pages to read, 2 essays due, and a machine problem that takes 4 hours. Other weeks, my computer science lab gets cancelled and all I have to read is poetry. The only aspects that are truly constant in my schedule are my part-time work, my internships, and my extracurricular activity involvements. That’s part of the reason why I enjoy my part-time work. It’s predictable and forces me to space out my other responsibilities knowing that it’s a constant in my life. Time management skills aren’t the only aspect I’ve picked up from my part-time work. I’ve been able to hone my interpersonal communication skills because I work with students of various ages from different fields of study. I have the unique opportunity to think beyond what I study and hear about what other people are doing, which influences my knowledge-base about ideas I otherwise wouldn’t hear about. Interacting with other students on a campus as large as mine is important for genuinely feeling like you belong to the campus community as a whole. Altogether, maintaining a part-time job while carrying a heavy schedule has been beneficial to my college experience. The opportunity to work in a professional role has allowed me to develop myself and contribute to my campus, and I’ve picked up time management skills that help me pull this balancing act. If you have the time, I’d highly recommend picking up a part-time job so you can benefit from student growth while also making money for whatever purpose you determine.
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