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How to balance a job and school

Author: Isha

Having a part time job as a student can be beneficial for your future as you learn to take on more responsibilities. You also learn how to manage your time and multi-task. The best perk of having a job is earning money while building your resume and profile for future endeavours (ex: post secondary or future jobs). Despite the benefits, managing your time with school can be difficult. In this post I will share ideas and tips on how to make this process easier.

It starts with finding the right kind of job. I recommend a 5 step process of analyzing a potential job:

  1. Time commitment: When reading a job posting, look for what days and times the employer wants you to work. Before starting, know the days and times you are available to work, so that you can eliminate the jobs that don’t fit your schedule.
  2. Location: You don’t want to find the perfect job only to realize it’s on the other side of the city. Look for a job that’s close to school or your home to cut down on commuting time. Gauging your time is up to you, but I advise that you choose a place that you can reach within no more than 15 minutes from your starting location. If you don’t drive, see how transit accessible or walkable the location is.
  3. Wage: As teens, it is difficult to find jobs that pay more than minimum wage, but you might be able to find one through searching on the internet. It also depends how the job market is. If it’s difficult to find employees, an employer may offer a higher wage in an attempt to fill the position. When you are offered a job or asked about wages in an interview, you can also ask for a higher wage. Be prepared to defend your ask with reasons you are worth paying more (your skills and attributes).
  4. Flexibility: As you read a job description or speak with the employer, see how flexible the workplace is. Will the employer understand your priorities and give you a week off during exams or is that kind of flexibility not feasible? Ask these questions and be honest with how much flexibility you need.
  5. Job tasks and your interests: The most important question should be if you will enjoy the tasks and purpose of your job position. Knowing what your interests are (ex: clothing, beauty, food services) will help you navigate your job search.

The following tips will help you maintain balance in your life between working and going to school.

  1. Have a good support system: Tell your family/guardians and about your commitments, so that they can support you when needed, such as by providing occasional or ongoing rides to work. Ideally, you’ll like and trust your coworkers, and can count on them to cover a shift for you when needed.
  2. Learn how to say no: While balancing school and work you may not be able to hang out with your friends as much as you used to. It is important for not only yourself, but your friends and family to understand your choices and the consequences that come with them. Sometimes, you might have to turn down an evening spent with friends or family to fit in some hours at work or finish up assignments. With this, it is also important to learn how to say no to extra hours at work. While a coworker may really need you to cover for them, you need to understand your boundaries and make wise choices.
  3. This leads to the next point – keep a balance between school, work, and your mental health: Make sure you do not completely immerse yourself in a cycle of school and work. Keep time for friends and family, and most importantly yourself. Try to eat properly, get enough sleep, and keep some time apart for your own hobbies.

Finally, it is important to remember to reward yourself for balancing two huge responsibilities together. Your ability to manage and balance your lifestyle may seem tricky, but it’s not impossible. These tips should help you bring your work life and school life together, while staying organized and sane during the busy times of your schedule.

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