Lauren Bishop Produced by
from England

2014/15

MSc Public Health

Balancing a job with studying is challenging, but something many of us have to do. Here I share my experiences of juggling the two, the challenges I’ve faced and how I’m overcoming them.

I’m fortunate that my working hours are flexible so I can fit work around my studies. The downside is that most of my study time is self-directed too, meaning I’ve had to work hard on getting myself into a routine. Developing a good routine would be one of my top tips when it comes to juggling studying and a job, and that includes building leisure activities into your routine. I’ve started attending a couple of gym classes each week; as the gym is close to the library I spend those days studying before attending my classes, and work the other days. Building this into my week-to-week plan has helped me to feel more grounded.

It’s important to be able to switch your mind-set and focus your attention on whatever you’re doing at the time, particularly if your job is unrelated to your studies. I think the importance of routine rings true again here, as is ensuring you look after your general well-being, which will give you the energy and motivation you need to keep on top of everything.

If things get too much, especially around assignment deadlines or exam periods, you need to be able to discuss concerns with your employer. I’m fortunate that my work is so flexible. Not everyone is so lucky, but if you don’t feel able to raise issues with your boss, or there is simply no scope for flexibility, it might be appropriate to look for a different job. This is your qualification that you’re putting your energy, time and hard-earned money into, and to me this should always take priority whenever possible.

Finally, don’t work too many hours! It can be easy to put yourself under pressure to do too much, but if you burn out or become unwell you’re no good for anything! I prefer to work fewer hours and be efficient when I do, rather than spend crazy numbers of hours in the library or the office. If you feel you never have any leisure time, try cutting the hours and see if you manage to get just as much done; you might be surprised!

Although my job and my studies aren’t directly related to each other, the two complement each other quite well. I’m not only earning some pennies while completing my Masters, I’m also gaining work experience in a relevant field and building points on my CV that will help me to do well once I graduate. For this reason, getting the balance right between the two is going to be really beneficial to me.

Balancing studying with a job is all about routine, keeping focussed and looking after yourself. Master these things and you will balance the two perfectly and reap the rewards!

By Lauren Bishop