Work-Study-Life Balance Money or free time? Which one do you choose?

80% of students work during their studies. But when is the right time to enter the working world? Last time, I wrote about my start as a new employee at CodeFlügel. Today, I will tell you what to expect, in terms of combining your work and your studies.

When I started studying at the Graz University of Technology, I didn’t know what to expect. In the beginning, I decided to solely focus on my studies. I hadn’t thought about a part-time job. Of course, some of my colleges worked right from the start. My situation was a bit more complicated, because I had a long way to travel to university each day. Because of that, it wouldn’t have been easy to manage both as a freshman. Personally, I was lucky, because my parents gave me the support I needed. However, there comes a time (though probably not for everyone) when you no longer want to be dependent on your parents but stand on your own feet.

So, the question to ask is: Is there time for a job alongside your studies?

Well, above all, that depends on your course of studies. There are some courses which don’t allow working a part-time job. Be it due to compulsory attendance or because of exams which need a lot of preparation, sometimes you get burned out just from studying alone. And you also want to have time for your friends, hobbies or other social activities. As a student, you have to be mindful of your “work-life-balance” as well, although this term actually applies more to the actual job life.
This situation describes my start at university pretty well – I was spending almost all my time at the campus and couldn’t (and wouldn’t have wanted to) work at the same time. Luckily, you have many holiday breaks as a student where you can work and earn money. That’s what I did, anyway.

The unique advantage of every course of studies is that you can learn a lot in a short period of time which means you get qualified for jobs in your field of studies. The further along you get, the less you want to work the standard student jobs like waiting tables or other temp jobs. Simultaneously, various job advertisements start getting a lot more interesting. Moreover, they look good in your CV as well. That was the point at which I decided I was ready for the next step. Once that decision was made, things went really fast and it was a short time between the first apartment and the first job.

Now, as you know, I work part-time as a web developer and am attending my last courses at university. At first, it was a major change. Student life isn’t nearly the same as work life and it knocked my whole daily routine for a loop. Time management was more important than ever. My usual student life took the biggest hits. No more parties during the week, no more all-nighters with friends, no more countless days at the volleyball field – I had to manage my time more carefully.

But actually, this is also one of the best things about working during your studies. You learn to use and break down your time more efficiently. It may sound funny, but the less time you have the more productive you get. Every student knows the feeling of putting off studying for something until the last minute. If you are working, however, you simply can’t do this. You have to use the time you have available: if there is some free time, you study – even if you’re not into it. Instead of an after-lunch nap (yes, a nap 😀 ) or mindlessly scrolling through all the social media channels, you scroll through someone’s notes from the last lecture you missed (despite this taking a huge amount of caffeine sometimes).

You just don’t have the time to do everything on the last day. With good time management, you may even get better results. The whole purpose of time management is to keep the time you were spending on your family, sports and friends the same. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice those things. Not to mention the fact that your girlfriend would go on strike if you didn’t have time for anything else beside your work and studies. 😉 Also, when there’s precious little time to spare during the week, you want to leave the weekend free to enjoy.

Now, this may all sound a little bit dramatic, but in the worst-case scenario these are important things to consider. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the whole semester. There are some periods of time where everything is a little bit smoother and more chill. But you should be prepared for the situation mentioned earlier.

Another big advantage of working as a web developer at CodeFlügel is the fact that you can sometimes work from home. This can potentially save you a lot of time. If you have to finish a project which only takes a couple more hours and you also have to go to your courses that day, you can just work from home and go to uni afterwards. I’m also a huge fan of the flexible work hours. As a student, your schedule might sometimes change or you have to be at the university on short notice. In those cases, it’s possible for me to make up those hours later without taking a vacation day or using my comp time. Of course, it’s important to communicate things like that to your colleges and employer. Everyone knows there are some appointments you can’t miss and if it’s not an important client meeting that’s affected, it won’t be a problem.

Once I had fully arrived in the job world, I got to the point where I felt I had to change my priorities. From when I was starting out up until my bachelor graduation, university was my number one priority. It was my full-time job and the temp jobs were just for the money. Over the past year, since I changed to the master course, my priorities changed. I would even say that I now study part-time alongside my job – my studies have now officially taken second place. The decision was absolutely personal to me and I didn’t make it lightly. Of course, I want to finish my studies as quickly as possible, but work experience is equally as (if not more) important as a degree. However, the most important thing is to use your time well and don’t let things slide. And above all, a suitable job in your preferred line of work gets you valuable experience and practise. Who doesn’t need that?!