For many of you, getting part-time work or undertaking extra-curricular activities is really important for developing your skills and getting that extra cash alongside your studies. Working at the 301 skills centre and as a Residence Mentor has made me realise the importance of balancing various deadlines and shifts, and how much employers value this. Here are a few tips that I have put together which have helped me throughout my few years at University, and how you can reduce stress-levels during exam periods.
- Find a student-friendly job or activity with managers that understand how important your studies are to you.
An obvious one is getting a university job. There are a number of different departments around the university that are always employing people, and an easy one to get is an ambassador job. I worked for the School of English as an ambassador and worked on Open Days, UCAS fairs, or introductory seminars. The Students’ Union is also usually hiring, in the various shops/eateries they have. You might even find research jobs or placements that pop up in your department, which require you to work 100 hours, for example. Keep an eye out on the Careers Service ‘Career Connect’ page, which all students have access to. If you do decide to go for a job with an external company, make sure they know which hours you intend to work. The University recommends 16 hours or less, and I’ve found that doing evening shifts allows me to do course work during my free hours in the day. See what works for you!
Now that I am a Masters student, I know how easy it is to lose track of what you have going on and when. I now have a wall planner, a diary, and various to do lists dotted around my bedroom, because I know it’s the only way I’ll know what I’m doing and when! We also have Time Management workshops at 301 which are now bookable at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301/services/workshops, with the first one starting on 27th September, 1.15pm. It gives you realistic and practical tips for managing your time and being more productive, which can help you organise your activities around your studies! I always make sure that I write down all of my shifts as soon as I know them, as well as any deadlines, appointments, society meetings, etc. Even using your smartphone to write everything down is a good idea!
- Know that it’s okay to have multiple breaks.
It’s so important to know when you need a break, and when you need to ask for help. There are so many times where I have bottled my stress up and I could have easily talked to someone. There are many services across the University, but even just talking to a friend or personal tutor can really help put things into perspective. It sounds simple but sometimes I just needed reminding that there are people around who can help! Also, never feel guilty about taking breaks throughout the day – you know your own body and mind, and when it needs a rest. If that means taking a full day off your studies/activities, then go ahead! As long as your work or activity is not taking over your studies of course!
- Just need the skills? Volunteering is an excellent way to get them!
If you just need the skills and development that a job can give you, then signing up to activities at the Sheffield Volunteering office is an excellent way to gain them. I have done a few activities with children and it really helped me to figure out whether teaching was right for me. Not only can it help figure out what you want to specialise in, but it’s incredibly rewarding and the hours you work are not meant to impact your studies in a negative way. I did a few hours a week at a project combatting homelessness last year, and it gave me that much needed boost every week to see that I was supporting people.
I hope these tips were helpful to some of you looking for part-time work and worrying about fitting it around your study timetable. University is not only a chance to study but a chance to get that experience for future employers. But remember, your studies should be your number one priority and you’re not obliged to remain in a job or activity that is making you stressed!