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IOE Student Blog


A blog on life at IOE and education affairs written for students by students.


Combining full-time studying with part-time working: if I could do it, so can you!

By Joana Maia, on 2 October 2019

Does working while studying seem impossible to you? Would you like to combine your full-time studies with some part-time working, but you find that too scary? This blog was written for you, then! I will share with you my experience as a full-time MA student and part-time worker, and provide some tips which may be useful for those who are students and wish to start working.

Person working sat at a table with a notebook and a cup of tea

I entered the Music Education MA, at UCL Institute of Education, in 2018/2019, having enrolled in the programme as a full-time student. I began working as a part-time nanny during the last year of my BA (2017/2018). Throughout that year, I was always able to keep up my good performance as a student, even though I was combining my full-time studies with a part-time job. However, I never thought that I would manage to maintain the quality of my grades while part-time working in the context of an MA.

Even so, I decided to take the risk and combine my full-time MA studies with some part-time working as a nanny, and can now say that I do not regret my decision. Mondays and Tuesdays were usually the days in which I would fully dedicate to my studies. Even though there were days in which I only had one lesson at the end of the evening, I tended to do my readings and write my essays in those days’ mornings and afternoons. Wednesdays and Thursdays were the days in which I could fit my part-time job as a nanny, which worked perfectly for me, as I aimed for Fridays to be the days when I would write my MA dissertation.

Another aspect which was also pivotal when managing my life as a student and part-time worker was the fact that my MA teachers were incredibly supportive when I informed them that I was part-time working while studying. During the spring semester, I had theoretical-practical lessons which took place monthly and whose timetable was variable. On the rare occasions when those lessons occurred Wednesdays or Thursdays, and even though I was fully prepared to miss one or two days of work if I needed to, the teacher gave me priority over my peers in the practical activities, so that I would not miss a significant part of the lesson and could leave earlier. The same thing happened with other students in my class, who also had work commitments to attend.

The family I worked for also contributed significantly to my success as both a student and a worker. Even though my bosses had challenging jobs and tight schedules, they were always flexible regarding my university timetable, and always sought to adapt their schedules to mine. Moreover, they were also incredibly supportive of my MA studies. I am very grateful to have been selected as one of the nannies of their seven-year-old bright, polite and caring child, whom I developed a close relationship with.

Top tips

For those of you who would like to have a part-time job while full-time studying, here are some tips which helped me succeed and which will certainly help you too:

  • Outline a schedule which includes your university programme’s lessons, your part-time job, and the moments you will dedicate to autonomous studying;
  • Be disciplined and try to stick to the schedule as much as you can;
  • Allow yourself some time for your social life and entertainment, or simply to rest. Studying and working can become quite overwhelming at times, and these moments are essential for your wellbeing;
  • Have a balanced diet which helps you keep focused at university and which provides you with the energy you need for studying and working;
  • Manage your energy wisely and make the most out of every aspect of your life (university, work, and entertainment);
  • Surround yourself by people who support you and who are actively present in the highs and lows of your daily life as a student and worker. The person/people you live with, your family, your teachers, and your friends are particularly important in this regard;
  • Try to establish useful connections between your part-time job and your studies, and to understand how your practice as a worker can positively influence your performance as a student. In my case, that was particularly fruitful, as I felt that my job as a nanny provided me with experiences which complemented what I learned in the context of my MA;
  • Always put your studies first. Do not forget that, above all else, you are a student aiming to get your qualification successfully.

Part-time work experiences are always a good way to boost one’s budget while enhancing one’s CV. They also allow one to acquire interpersonal skills valuable for one’s professional and personal life. Give it a try, and you certainly will not regret it. If I could do it, so can you!

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