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Part-time work vs Study

Undergraduate or Postgraduate study can be costly and it’s highly likely that you will need to work and earn while completing your studies, in fact most students work part time in order to fund their way through university, as a necessity for financial survival rather than as a learning opportunity. 

But before you decide and commit to part time employment, it’s important to plan carefully so your studies are not affected. 

Things to consider

Your course is the priority. 

Be clear about the amount of time you need to commit to your course and begin to set up a early boundry with the amount of hours you can commit to work. Find out what your schedule and workload will involve. Some simple considerations may be:

  • What are the contact hours per week you will need for your lectures/ labs?  
  • How many hours of self-directed study are recommended for each module? 
  • What types of assignments will you need to complete: Team projects, Essays, Presentations, Case studies, Capstone Projects, Thesis. What is the estimated workload for each one? 
  • Is work placement an element of the course, how does this impact on your part time employment? 

You may not know all the answers but It can be very helpful to talk with current students, students ahead of you and past graduates about the workload. If that fails, your course co-ordinator is there to support and advise, and you always have UCC busgetary advisor to talk through also.

What kind of hours are we talking about?

The time you commit to part time employment must be sustainable and realistic. 

When considering part time work, factor in all your needs, not just your studies. 

Be clear how much time you can allocate to work and stick to it. 


 Your wellbeing on every level is vital, if you don’t look after yourself – the quality and standard of everything you do is potentially compromised. More importantly your physical and mental wellbeing can be stretched. Looking after yourself is your responsibility, nobody can do it for you. 

Even for the most resilient of us, stress levels rise when we take on too much and don’t have the enough time to complete what we have committed to.  

On a weekly basis its’s important to schedule in time for; relaxation, social contact with friends and family, enjoyable interests and leisure activities that give us a boost, physical exercise and adequate sleep (7 – 8 hours per night) 

The recommended upper limit for part time work is 15 hours a week. This could involve several small shifts of 3- 5 hours a week or typically two day or evening 7-hour shifts at weekends.  

More than 15 extra hours of work a week might start to negatively impact on your studies and overall wellbeing. Realistically, you may find there will be some exceptions to this when you find yourself asked to fill for an absent colleague.  

 When considering part time work, if possible, try to avoid jobs that require late night finishes during the week. Don’t miss lectures for work, this is a bad habit. 

Nurturing new skills

There is a value to the skills you develop regardless of how menial or non-relevant your part time job may seem to you. 

 Your employability skills will be enhanced. Any work experience will give you ‘business awareness’, an understanding of how organisations work and a range of transferable skills, such as: customer care and service, team skills, organisation and planning, teamwork, to name but a few.  

All graduate employers want to see evidence that you can adapt, learn and apply new skills in a workplace environment. 

One to one expert support

The Career Consultants are part of the UCC Career Services which exists to support the career development of UCC students through the provision of advisory, work placement and graduate recruitment services.

The Career Consultants help UCC students to achieve their career objectives by providing access to one to one careers advice and coaching, employability skills development classes, workshops and events.


What can Career Consultants do for you?

A career consultant can support your ability to:

  • Make decisions and achieve goals that are aligned with personal strengths, values and interests.
  • Present a professional image to the world online, in writing and in person.
  • Identify local, national and international development opportunities, on and off campus, voluntary and paid, educational and work-based
  • Source and compete effectively for career opportunities of interest.

They provide professional impartial, person-centred, confidential support to all students and recent graduates.

How to sign up on Careers Connect and book an appointment with a Career Consultants

With Careers Connect you can: • Book a 30 minute appointment with a UCC Careers Advisor

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