Combining school and work, whether we're talking about high school jobs or college jobs, is a tough balancing act. But when you add up all the benefits - from gaining references, to career development to spending money - it's easy to see why a part-time job is something you want to consider.
Here are some tips for managing the challenge:
1. Pick a job with flexible hours - There are plenty of part-time jobs that will accommodate a schedule full of classes, club meetings, sports and even a little downtime catching up on "Storage Wars" (a personal favorite). Restaurant jobs, in particular, are prime territory for students looking to make some extra cash. Many restaurants offer after-school and weekend hours. Retail jobs can also fit a tight schedule.
If you want to work on school nights, be sure to not overdue it. The amount of sleep you need to have a productive day varies depending on the individual, but most experts recommend getting at least seven hours a night. Make sure you don't over-commit to working more hours than you're comfortable with, or your life could become a slippery slope of missed classes, broken promises and caffeine dependency.
2. Make a schedule - Before you take on a new job, sit down and write out all of your priorities, followed by about how much time they take up each week. Now add it all up and see how much time you'll have to work. Even if it's only enough for a shift or two a week of work, that's fine. That is unless you need to work a certain amount each month to pay for rent and other cost-of-living expenses, in which case you might have to skimp on socializing time. Once you have your schedule sorted out, it's important to stick to it. By developing these time management skills now, you'll be ready down the road when life throws even more responsibilities your way.
3. Focus on the perks – Keeping a student job is tough. Every morning you reach for the snooze alarm, but can't push it. Every night you get to see your friends - but it's on the wrong side of the drive-through window. But every time you mistakenly show up to class with your nametag on or answer your cell phone like you would at work, remember one thing: money. While your friends are begging for allowance advances, you're earning money that can be used for vacation time, tuition costs and non-dining hall food. And while it doesn't sound as fun, you're also gaining skills and experience that will come in handy down the road, such as customer service, time management and conflict resolution.
Balancing school and work requires patience and accountability. But trust us, it all gets easier once that first paycheck is in the bank.