Working and studying as a mature student

Many students work part time while studying, whether to earn money, develop skills or meet new people. Gail, who works as a Careers Brand Ambassador, has written about working part-time as a mature student, the benefits it can bring, and how to fit it around your other commitments.

As a mature student, coming back into education is a big decision. Whether it’s to change your career or further your education, you might also be worried about whether you can work part time while carrying on with your studies and other commitments outside of university.

In my experience, most mature students tend to have part time jobs for all kinds of reasons. And my advice to you from my 3 years as a student is that part time work is possible and can help you as a student in a number of ways:

  • It helps financially, and it’s good to know that you have an income coming in at the end of each month
  • It can give you a different environment away from your studies
  • You can use it on your CV to show your time management skills and how you manage a study/work-life balance.

My reason for working part time was one of financial need, but it’s helped in lots of ways. All my jobs have been within the university; I’ve worked open days, hosted mature student coffee drop-ins and worked as a Careers Brand Ambassador. From working in these jobs I have learnt to work in new environments, learnt more about the university and got better at talking in front of people. I’ve also worked with great people.

Image of a student ambassador at open day

My advice as a mature student is it helps to take part time employment but don’t over commit yourself. The university says to work no more than 20 hours a week, but my advice would be 15. This gives you time to complete your weekly reading and studies as well as doing a part time job. If you have family or caring commitments, those hours would be even less.

Some mature students come into University already having a part time job and over the year reduce their hours to cope with studying. Many work less in autumn and spring, so having a job where you can be flexible helps.

You should also look for work close to home or university, and remember that your timetable changes every term, so you might have to ask to change your hours to fit in lectures and seminars.

My main piece of advice is that, although part time work is sometimes necessary, you need to leave time for your studies, family and time for you to relax.

You can find part time jobs advertised on Careers Gateway. If you would like more information, visit our webpages on part time work or visit the Careers drop-in (Monday to Friday, 11-1 during term time).