Handling a Full Time Job with a Full Time Courseload

Working 40 hours a week through school is a challenge... here's how I made the most of it.

With a student body as large and diverse as Temple University’s, I am sure I am one of many students who had a full time job throughout my time here. I work at Urban Outfitters as a Team Leader. I was hired about 3 years ago, shortly after I transferred to Temple. In order to move to Philadelphia to attend school I was going to need a job. Initially, when applying to jobs I did not have a specific prospect. I applied over and over to grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and any retail store I could think of. At the time, Urban Outfitters was just one of the hundreds of applications I filled out and I accepted their offer because they were the first to hire me. However, after just a few months working there, I became incredibly passionate about the brand and was dedicated to grow as much as I could at my job.

Through the three years I found a routine and am more successfully able to balance my school work and my job, but it wasn’t always easy. I’ve learned some tips over the years that have helped my sanity immensely.

  1. Be completely honest with yourself about what you are capable of. When I started at Temple, I scheduled all my classes as early as possible to allow as much time to work as possible. I took 8 am classes 5 days a week and went straight to work until sometimes 10:30. When I got home I was way too tired to do my assignments well and often slept through class. I wanted this to work but quickly found it was not the right routine for me. I tried a few different structures over the next couple semesters and finally found one that suited my needs. It meant there was a day or two in the week where I was not available to work at all, but it was so worth it in terms of my school work. Obviously this is different for everyone. I work best in the afternoon and evening, so morning classes were not great for me, but if you’re a morning person or get run on less sleep, then go for it! Everyone’s different.
  2. If you can, keep school and work separate. Obviously the things you learn in class are often great to bring to the workplace. What I am trying to convey is to mentally separate the workloads. My performance at work suffered when I was obsessing about an assignment I had to complete and my school work suffered when I was worrying about a workplace task. I eventually found comfort in my shifts at work being a designated 8 hours a day where I could take a mental break from my course load, allowing me to truly focus when I got home.
  3. Write everything down. Literally everything. When you’re busy it’s often easy to overlook assignments or appointments. Sometimes I knew I had an assignment due but wasn’t sure what days I had work beforehand so I did not plan accordingly. Writing things out in a calendar format helped me visualize my week and keep on track.
  4. Even if you work a customer service job, don’t set your sights too short. Networking events are not the only places to meet influential people. Keep an open mind while you are working. I used to see my job as “just retail” but I’ve actually made some great connections there. I’ve met graphic designers, stylists, and even the Urban Outfitters social media team, just by going to work. Sometimes our store has events where corporate employees visit the store, but I’ve even made great connections with corporate employees who are just popping by to shop. Connections are truly everywhere.
  5. The most important thing I’ve learned through my experience working full time through college is to not compare my experience to that of other students. Though I did a few remote internships, having a full time internship was not feasible for me in my college experience. I often found myself getting jealous of those who were able to take those opportunities. However, everyone takes a different path to their ultimate career goals. I am graduating knowing that I have a strong work ethic and that everything I did can only help me succeed in the future.

One comment

  1. This is all so accurate! I’ve been managing being a full time student with a retail job my entire college career, and now that I have an internship this semester I’ve had to become much better at time management and balancing all the aspects of my life. Your tips are great!

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