The truth about working while in college

My name is Megan. You could technically call me a “senior”, but I’ve still got another 2 years left at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). I’m a Business Management major with a minor in Journalism. Being a full-time student can seem like a job of its own, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills.

As a commuter student, gas, car expenses, and the weekly stops at Starbucks, make working while in school a necessity. I pay tuition out-of-pocket, as well as books, food, and any other expenses that pop up. Between my four part-time jobs, I practically work full-time. I nanny for two separate families, work at a fitness center near my house, and at an on-campus tutoring center.

What is the hardest part of balancing work life and school life?

The major struggle with working and being a student is finding a balance. In past semesters, it was a struggle to find a balance between work, class, studying, commute time, socializing, and sleeping. It took many trial and errors to determine my limit and figure out the amount of hours I needed to work and the amount I should work to be able to keep a balance with everything else.

How are you able to manage having a job and going to school?

I’ve found that being scheduled to minimum hours has been the best option for me. When a week comes along with 3 exams and a paper due, I’m not overwhelmed with lots of work hours and stressed trying to find shift coverage. When I have weeks with little going on, I have the option to pick up more hours. 10-20 hours a week has been the best for me, but of course it depends on how many credit hours, extracurricular activities, and other time commitments one has.

What are the benefits of working while in school?

I’ve found working while in college to be super beneficial for a few major reasons:

1. Who doesn’t love having a little extra money in their pocket?

2. My off-campus job has been the ultimate networking experience. Last year, one of our “regulars” turned out to be my accounting professor! I walked into class being friends with the professor and had an insider scoop with exam information and schedule changes. Other “regulars” have turned out to be the owner of the dealership where I get car repairs (can you say discounts?), servers at restaurants (excellent service and deals), and so much more!

So, for those of you who choose to work, engage people in conversation! You never know where those contacts will take you.

3. Working has also allowed me to build my resume. Having a high GPA is great, but employers also love to see work experience. It shows your ability to manage your time between the two. Most advisors and business professionals say work experience counts for more than grades alone.

What have you learned from having a job while in school?

Working while in school has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has given me real-world applications of the business strategies and lessons discussed in class. Reading something in a textbook is one thing, but actually comprehending and applying it in a real experience is so much more educational. It’s a balancing act to get everything done, but totally manageable and well worth it!


Megan Michuta About the author: Megan Michuta is a 21-year-old full-time undergrad student at the University of Michigan. She is majoring in Business Management with a minor in Journalism.





Leave a Reply