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Balancing your work and studies

Postgraduate study can be flexible and studied alongside work or other commitments. Here's some advice on getting the balance right and finding work.
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As long as it doesn’t take up too much of your study time, finding a part-time job can be a great idea to gain more money, less debt, and new skills for your CV.

How to get the balance right

Just don’t take on too many hours of employment – it’s not worth feeling too tired or under pressure while you’re studying. Most course providers recommend less than 15 hours a week, so make sure it’s flexible and can be scheduled around your lecture timetable.

How to find a job

For starters make sure it’s a safe job, and if it’s a large company, check whether you can work in your hometown during the holidays too.

  • Universities and colleges can sometimes offer paid work on campus.
  • Check Universal Jobmatch, employment agencies and job adverts online and in newspapers, or student jobsites like e4s or Student Job.
  • Retail is a popular choice because it can offer flexible hours – or try something like admin, restaurants, bars, telesales or market research.

Choose part-time work that will help your career

If you have definite career plans you may be able to find part-time work that is directly relevant. Otherwise, you can a variety of 'employable' skills through any temporary job. These can include:

  • fluency in verbal and written communication
  • numeracy
  • commercial awareness
  • analytical/lateral thinking
  • planning, organisation and time management
  • drive
  • flexibility and tolerance to change and pressure
  • creativity and self-awareness
  • teamwork, leadership, and skills of persuasion and negotiation
  • training and coaching skills

Some of these workplace skills may build upon the abilities you demonstrate through study; others will be complementary. Strategically, you may want to use work experience to build abilities that aren’t obvious on your CV.

Above all, employers will want you to display the same skills in fresh thinking and systematic working that make you a success academically.

Check the tax details

Each tax year (6 April to 5 April the year after), you can earn an amount of money you don’t pay any tax on. This is called your ‘personal allowance’ and by working part-time you might stay under the limit – so no tax!

Any funding you receive shouldn’t be taxed either – nor should it be counted towards your personal allowance.

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