The balance between work, play and study in your first year at university

Work life balance at university

By Nicole Correia,

A couple weeks ago, in my blog post about driving, I mentioned that sometimes I feel like I'm balancing being a teen and an adult, more often than not dropping everything and having to start from scratch. Generally, I am the type of person to take on too much, panic, and stay up all night sorting it all out or rapidly ticking off a to-do list in a short space of time.

During my first year at university, for this reason, I decided not to transfer my part-time job at Starbucks to Reading, where I am studying. Instead, I decided to keep in touch with my boss at home and organise shifts for the weekends that I was staying at home. I feel this was a great decision on my behalf as I was able to fully immerse myself into student life and to enjoy the campus and area surrounding my university.

I really do think it is so important to enjoy your first year as much as possible. Speak to as many people and be as sociable as you can - if you can afford it, you have the rest of your life to give to the working world! However, in saying that I made sure that I saved time during some evenings, after doing some uni work, to look for things that would improve my CV. I organised work experience placements for Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, so that by the end of my first year at university my CV now has nearly 6 months’ worth of experience in full time jobs, relevant to my degree and interests.

This decision did put a little pressure on my little purse, but I only chose internships and work experience placements that were expenses paid - which means that they pay for your transport costs - meaning that I would not have to pay to work. Working for free, however, is difficult, especially when many of your friends are not doing any work whatsoever, or many more are earning money (that you wish you had time to!). I have my fingers and toes crossed that one day it’ll all be worth it!

So, during my first year at uni in term time, I socialised, played sport, did a lot of clubbing and inviting friends to “study dates” aka tea-and-biscuits-for-two-hours-with-papers-all-over-the-table.During the holidays I then became and adult and worked full-time in various offices, wearing flat sensible shoes rather than “ridiculous heels” (as my dear Mother refers to them!). During my commute I began my uni reading list, in order to get a head start for my book-friendly English Literature degree. It really is all about making sure that you balance your fun, your future and your coins as well as you possibly can.

If you need to work a part-time job at university then make sure that the amount of hours you are committing to is suitable, and that you have enough time to relax (and study!). This may mean talking to your employers after each term as work pressures often change. Find what works for you, as I did, and stick to it. If you need help with getting a part-time job, or improving your CV, theunipod has several graduate careers articles filled to the brim with tips and places to get yourself started!