Whether it’s to earn some extra cash, gain experience, or out of necessity, more and more students are working alongside their studies. Let’s have a look at some of the things to consider before searching for that part-time job everyone is after.
According to surveys, 45%–70% of students in France are working or have worked during their university studies. Among this group, only some actually work to fund their studies. Most students asked saw working during their studies as something positive. But if you take on too much, it can not only affect your grades, but also your health and quality of life as a student. The risk of this happening is even greater if the job has nothing to do with your studies.
So, what should you bear in mind when trying to balance your studies and a part-time job?
1. Know what you want, be realistic and get organised
The first question you should ask yourself is why do you want a part-time job? Do you really need to work or is it just a way to earn a bit of extra cash?
Then it’s time to be realistic: can you really juggle your studies and having a job? And do you really want to have to? If the answer is no, then forget about earning some extra pocket money and focus on getting good grades – or otherwise set your sights lower!
Finally, don’t forget that you need to be organised to be able to juggle lectures, homework and exams, all while holding down a part-time job that could keep you tied up for long hours each week, depending on your contract.
2. Find a job that relates to your studies
Whether it’s a traineeship or a work and study contract, finding a job that is related to your studies is an opportunity not to be passed up. Not only will you be paid, but it will also contribute to your learning, help you get good grades, and will look good on your CV. Of course, some sectors such as healthcare offer plenty of opportunities, while for others it’s easier said than done.
If you can, try to find a part-time job on campus, as you’ll be more likely to find something flexible.
3. Find something with fixed or casual hours that you can fit into your schedule
Whether it’s babysitting, private tuition or working in a restaurant, try to find something that won’t have you squeezing in extra hours at the last minute. To stay organised, you need to be able to plan your workload. If possible, choose a job with flexible hours that you can fit around your studies, i.e. where you can do more hours during the holidays and fewer per week during term time, and only work a couple of hours or not at all during exam periods. That being said, you might have a hard time finding an employer who is willing to be that flexible. If you can, try to find a part-time job on campus, as you’ll be more likely to find something flexible. So how do you go about getting a job on campus? The best thing to do is to check out the ads flying around at the beginning of the year and don’t wait to apply – you won’t be the only one, so come prepared!
4. Look for something convenient
Try to find a job that is close to home. Long commutes can become tiring and you’ll lose precious time that could be spent studying. Don’t give up – hand your CV around to all the local employers that might have something suitable.
If possible, try to avoid working more than 20 hours a week. Any more than this tends to lead to considerably lower grades and a much higher rate of academic failure.
5. Be a student – while you can!
If possible, try to avoid working more than 20 hours a week. Any more than this tends to lead to considerably lower grades and a much higher rate of academic failure. Not only this, you’ll struggle to make the most of student life and it will be hard to find time for friends, cultural events or sports. Don’t forget that an active social life is also an important part of studying, and that the people you meet at uni could turn out to be good connections in the future.
6. Don’t keep skipping lectures
Some lectures are mandatory – even at uni! If you are absent from certain seminars or practical classes without good reason, you could end up getting no marks at all, and that’s difficult to make up. It’s worth asking your uni if there’s a way around this, even if the conditions are often difficult to fulfil. With a bit of luck, you’ll have an understanding professor who will turn a blind eye on some of your absences if you talk to them and give them a copy of your employment certificate.
7. Make sure you have an employment contract and receive pay slips
The fact that working under the table is illegal should put you off in the first place, but you should also bear in mind that if you aren’t a registered employee, you won’t be covered by social security if you have an accident at work. Don’t think that it couldn’t happen to you!