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Working while studying, finding the balance Working while studying
Posted by Celia Murray | July 06th 2011

Working is an important aspect of most tertiary students’ lives and provides not only a boost to one’s bank account but also their social circle. Possibly the hardest aspect of casual or part time work is the process involved in finding a job that will suit your lifestyle and study commitment. Student Celia Murray passes on her advice for finding a job and maintaining the balance between work and study.

After study and a social life, the next important factor in a student’s life is work. Whether it is in cafes, stores or offices at some point in your tertiary career you’re likely to apply for or be interested in a job.

Jobs can be great. You make a little more cash to save or spend at will, meet lots of new people, gain extra words to put on your resume and even enjoy the experience!

Here are some tips that you should consider when choosing and applying for a job.

Looking for the job

The first criteria is how much distance you are going to have to travel, so before hitting the web to trawl through adds keep in mind areas that are easy to get to by car or public transport. The last thing you want during semesters is wasting valuable study, socializing or sleeping time to travel.

Think about places or brands you like to shop at. The more familiar with, and happy about the product you are the more you are likely to be hired and enjoy going to work.

Look at the other employees. Do they look happy to be there? Are they engaging well with other staff and customers? Working in a pleasant environment is a huge bonus so try and get a feel for the place.

Also consider the benefits of working for a large company. Sure we may not all want to work in Coles or Target but remember they are large companies with a head office. They will also have legal advice and are aware of your rights. This means your pay rates may be better than if you get cash in hand in a café. You will also be protected by occupational health and safety and will get paid more for certain shifts.

You like the place- now what?

Always try to make a good first impression. If you are handing in a resume in person then remember to be confident, well dressed and alone. Don’t come in with a group of friends. Employers want to see that you can stand on your own two feet and be professional. Use every first impression and interview as practice for your future career aspirations. Ask whether you can hand in resume in store or whether it would be better to apply online.

On your cover letter always state your availability. Often employers are looking for people who can fit in with the team and start soon. If you haven’t listed the days you can work they may just overlook the rest of your resume.

Negotiating the job

Universities dictate to all new students that to give your studies adequate attention you shouldn’t work more than 12-15 hours. Make this clear to your employer and that you are committed to your study. Let them know what days of the week you have university and what times of the year you’ll have exams or essays due.

If you are signing a contract then have a look at the particulars about how much you will earn per hour and other award rates. If you are receiving cash in hand make sure you are earning enough, because even if you won’t be taxed on the amount you receive you also aren’t protected by security or occupational health and safety measures.

The Fair Work Ombudsman website is particularly helpful for understanding your rights and wages that you should expect.

Always remember

If you are a student, your study should always come first. Try to stick to the 12-15 hours of work a week rule and you’ll be able to keep up with university and TAFE work.

Know your rights. If you think that something dodgy is going on, then talk to somebody you trust and get their opinion. Make sure that you are being treated fairly.

Enjoy it! Work is mostly a lot of fun, you get to meet lots of people, make some more money and add it to your resume. Remember, you can stress over study but you really shouldn’t have to when it comes to work.