25th Hour

Balancing Part-Time Jobs in College

In this week’s installment of Ro&Co, Jessie shares her tips for balancing part-time jobs and a challenging academic curriculum.

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Since I’ve started college, 15 months ago, I’ve worked 7 different jobs, and averaged 20 hours a week. This doesn’t mean I take easy classes; it doesn’t mean I don’t party or hang out with friends; it doesn’t mean I don’t watch Netflix or do yoga; it just means I use my time efficiently.



I split my weekly activities into 3 different categories: Career, Academic, and Personal—and I make sure to make time for all 3.

jessie calendar

Here is my calendar: career is in blues, academic in greens, personal in pinks.

First, I need my quarterly class schedule. After that, I start fitting in lunch, problem sessions, and coffee into the 20/30 minute breaks between activities, as well as the RSOs (clubs) I’m involved in.

Once I have my general life schedule, I look for big enough chunks of time for it to be worth the uber for me to go to my job downtown. These blocks need to open before 1 and be open until 7, since my job closes at 6.

After my class schedule, needed personal and work schedule I start looking for other things to do which make me happy. I go to yoga twice a week. I figure out when my Pset groups can meet. I fit in a run on weekends, and a girls dinner.

Like Your Job

Working a job is much, much more than just a way for me to get paid. In fact, if that’s the only reason I’m doing it, I start looking for something else. Some jobs offer great perks, some further my career goals, and some I just love doing.

Unless your job fits into one of those categories, you shouldn’t be working it. Minimum wage in Chicago is 11$/hour. But using that time to study instead is worth much more against my future earnings. So, I need to work jobs which don’t take away from school work.


A job I love doing—like my job TAing a math class—counts to me as social time as much as something I’m paid to do. I love talking to my students, answering their questions, and preaching life advice to them! (whether they like it is another story.)

When I worked at a coffee shop, I would study there, and then use my 2 hour shift as a paid study break! They also gave me free coffee, which ended up being worth more than my paycheck!

If I find I start to dread my job, I take more personal time to make myself feel better about it. If that doesn’t work, I start looking for something else. Making sure I work jobs I love plays a big part in keeping me motivated to do them.

Weekends are for me

I will not work on weekends. I do all my problem sets—probably one per day for my two math-heavy classes. I schedule a few hours in a reg room to work on them with my friends. Besides that, the weekends are me time.

This Saturday, I’m doing my econ problem set at 11:00am, after an apartment tour at 10. My pset should take an hour or two, and my partner Jacob and I always book a reg room to do it in. It’s our weekly ritual. Then, I’ll eat lunch. Go back to my apartment, and start my analysis pset.

Normally, I wouldn’t do this until Sunday but this Sunday I’m going thrift shopping in the west loop and ~maybe~ getting my cartilage pierced.

Take Care of Yourself

I almost called this header “say no to things”. If I don’t want to go to the mixer, I don’t go. I go to bed at 10pm almost every night—unless there’s something else I really want to do.

Getting enough sleep gives me the energy to face my busy days. It’s a tiring day to start classes at 9:30 and get out of work at 6pm. I always get enough sleep.


This is even important on not busy days since it allows me to be much more productive. With a 20 minute nap I can do my homework twice as quickly. Without enough sleep I’m cranky, sluggish and inefficient.


Huge thanks to Jessie for sharing her tips! You can find her on Instagram here!

Want more information about balancing all your extracurricular activities and college? Check out my new podcast, Get This Girl a Job! My friend Katie and I take turns interviewing recent college graduates about their job search process.

You can read more about GTGAJ here! And listen to the first episode here!

Jessie Wrobel is a Mathematics major with a specializition in Economics at the University of Chicago. In her free time (what free time) she enjoys brunch, thrift shopping, and traveling the world.

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