A recent tweet by A Dime Saved (a great blog, you should check her out) inspired me to think about my working life throughout school. She recently asked about summer jobs that people had.
So what summer jobs have you all had?
— A Dime Saved (@adimesaved) July 21, 2021
I had my fair share, but so has everyone. What I think would help people more, and what I want to share with you, is how to have a full-time job, while going to school full-time (36+ hours per week).
Throughout school, I had a full-time job at a hardware store called RONA (The Canadian equivalent of Lowe’s), specifically in the lumber yard of that store. And I had this job while also going to school full-time to get my Bachelor of Management. And while going to school was a big mistake (see this article for why), working full-time while doing it was not. It made it so I could afford to live and enjoy my time without focusing solely on school.
During my time I also learned a couple of tips for working full-time that you can take into your school life if the prospect of working full-time interests you.
1. Finding the Right Job
One of the hardest parts of working full-time while going to school is finding a job that will allow you to work full-time while going to school. Most places that hire students either aren’t open enough hours for it to be feasible to work full-time, or are only bringing on students in a part-time capacity. So to find a good position to apply for there are a couple of things to look for:
Open Late – You want the place you are applying to work to be open late (9 pm or after). In a perfect world, it would be 24 hours. This means they have the most variety in their schedule and would be able to accommodate your school schedule
Not Primarily Student-Focused – What do I mean by this? I mean that while there may be students around in the workplace they aren’t the primary group of employees. Most of the employees are full-time people working full-time jobs. This makes them far less likely to only give you part-time hours
Open 7 days a Week – To be able to work full-time during school you’ll need to find a place that is open on weekends. Simply by working weekends you’ll work 16 hours, 40% of the way to full-time.
Good Boss – Having a boss that is willing to work with you to make your goals happen is key. Be straightforward with them from the beginning, and tell them that you hope to work full-time if they can work around your school schedule. The right boss will make sure they can do that, while not over-working you.
2. Adjusting Your School Schedule
Along with finding a workplace that fits all of the criteria to be a good place to work full-time you also need to make sure your schooling is adjusted to work full-time. This is the hardest part of the whole thing, as it may not be possible for everyone. To adjust your school schedule to work with your job you’ll need to know what the shifts they are planning to have you work are. Most will be in the evening from 4 until 10, meaning you will need to schedule your days heavy in the morning.
If it isn’t possible to schedule your days heavy in the morning you may consider trying to stack all of your classes on Tuesday and Thursday. This would open up your schedule 5 days a week to be able to have hours.
Again, this part might not be possible for everyone, and if you have to pick between the two, ALWAYS pick the school. Work will be there on the other side, but you’re paying to get an education, you might as well use it.
3. Preparing and Not Procrastinating With Schooling
Obviously, if you choose to work full-time during school you’ll be losing a lot of your free time. while this may not bug you for missing free time to play games, or watch a movie, it will begin to hurt you academically if you relied on your free time in the evenings to do your homework. During school, you will get homework, and you will get a lot of it. Don’t procrastinate doing it. The day you get the homework go home and do it. Depending on where you work they may even allow you to bring your homework during the quieter times. Take advantage of this.
By waiting to do your homework, especially when you have a job, you will be forced to finish everything last minute and have an unhealthy sleep schedule. It will also hurt your performance, both at work and in the classroom. By not procrastinating you save yourself the work and pain of being sleep-deprived trying to work full-time while in school.
4. Live Off-Campus, or Have Somewhere to Stay Over the Holidays
There are a couple of reasons you’ll want to live off-campus if you’re deciding to work full time while in school. From meals to holidays, here’s a couple of things to consider about why you should live off-campus.
Every dorm is different, so if none of these things affect your dorm situation, living on-campus may be worth it depending on price.
Living on campus a lot of the time not only allows you to have a meal plan but requires it. They do this because most dorms do not come with a kitchen, or similar items to cook food on, and you need to eat. But when you’re working full-time while going to school this setup can cause a lot of issues. In cafeteria-style meal plans they typically only offer meals during specific times. Lunch from 12-1, dinner from 5-6, etc.
If you’re only doing school this would work great as it helps you keep on a schedule. But by also working you will likely have to miss meals under this set-up as you will have shifts scheduled during those times. Weekends in particular will be difficult as you will likely miss 2, or possibly 3 meals throughout the course of the day as you’re working. So by getting a place that you have your own kitchen and can cook any time, you’ll be able to plan your meals around your schedule, rather than planning your schedule around your meals.
The one thing about living in dorms that people don’t consider when deciding to work full-time during school while living in dorms is that they close over Christmas. And not just for a short amount of time, but for several weeks. While you could simply take the time off work and go back home for the holidays it may be a better use of your time to work for most of the break and take a week or so at Christmas to go home. But to do this you need to live in your own house. A house that is open and available to you, regardless of the time of year.
Working full-time while going to school will wreak havoc on your schedule. It will put you getting home late some days, leaving early on others, and cooking at weird times of the day. While I am not saying you have to live alone, having a bit more space than one shared bedroom can really change your life balance and relieve the stress that comes with having such a busy schedule.
Having your own place to live in it helps you set it up in a place that works best for you.
Over the Summer
Another part of living in dorms that a lot of people don’t consider is that they are closed over the summer. While some people may not mind this as they want to go home over the summer, a lot of jobs will keep you on full-time if you are around during the summer. By having your own place you are able to stay in the city, regardless of the time of the year, and keep working full-time over the summer. This also allows you to save a ton of money over the summer, hopefully paying for future semesters of school.
Should You Work Full-time While In School?
Undoubtedly, yes! If you can handle it, and you can work schedule around it I would absolutely recommend working full-time while going to school. The extra money you get from working can change your entire schooling experience. Not only will you have the money to go out and do whatever you want with friends, or in the evening, but you may also be able to pay part of your tuition fees out of pocket.
These lower tuition fees and the smaller amount of debt you have to take on will change your life in the future. If you can manage to keep working full-time while going to school I recommend doing it!