Working Your Way Through School: Career Advice for Students

 by Virginia Cooper

For some, working while attending classes isn’t a choice – it’s a necessity. However, it’s also something of an art form because it requires quite a bit of creativity and adaptability as well. When it comes to choosing both a school and a job, there are numerous factors to consider. That’s why Learn-U has outlined some helpful tips to streamline the process.

Look into Affordable School Options

Starting with school shopping, first check into how schools of interest rank in the GreatSchools Rating. This rating is a helpful tool when determining the quality of schools in a geographic area. You can find out how the ratings are calculated by visiting

It’s also important to look around to see what programs and classes are available at each school, as well as tuition cost. Not only will you need this information to figure out how to work around your job schedule, you’ll find out which schools are within your budget.

Some schools may offer payment installation programs, and others may require a student loan just to get started. Online degree programs from accredited schools are another great option: they give you the opportunity to make your own schedule so you can work the hours you need to, and they offer competitive tuition costs. 

An alternate way to view this would be to consider your long term goals and work backwards. For instance, if you want to start your own computer business, a degree in Information Technology will provide you with special insight into the field, giving you a massive advantage. From there, consider your finances. If you’d like to limit or even completely avoid student loans, that means you’ll need to work while you study, so the flexibility of an online program might be ideal. 

Search for a Job Related to Your Career

It’s laborious to work a job and go to school simultaneously, but what if you could tie the two together? Best Colleges suggests finding out if your school offers career services. These programs can help link you to open jobs and internships. When it comes to career planning, look back at classes you enjoyed taking in the past, then align your interests with a related field of work so you can work toward a relevant degree. Even if you can’t find a job in your desired field, there could be opportunities for volunteering and workshops that can supplement your courses. 

Also, consider taking a job in a related field. If you’re studying advertising, maybe becoming a freelance writer will help you learn to write strong copy.

Network, Network, Network

These days, a lot of finding a career comes down to who you know. Blogger Jack Baylor suggests starting to network immediately. Your school may even have an alma mater graduate networking program, which is an excellent place to start.

Look for experts in your field, keeping in mind that you may already know some of the right people. Don’t be afraid to ask around; your parents, friends, and neighbors all might have a connection you can use. From there, your connection might be able to help you find a career-based job.

Networking is also helpful when it comes to your school search. For instance, your friend’s mom may have gone to a school you’re considering and can give you valuable insight. Your cousin may have gone into your field of study and can help prepare you for what’s ahead. You never know who can help you and how.

Flexible Hours

You’re going to want to find something with a flexible schedule. Whether you’re doing online classes or in-person, it’s vital that you don’t fall behind in your classes. If you’re working with a mentor or in an internship, you may have more freedom in making your schedule since your boss(es) will want you to keep learning and improving. When it comes to jobs unrelated to your career, talk to your manager about a feasible schedule. Be willing to work early mornings, nights, and weekends; don’t be picky.

Find Creative Ways to Study at Work

Just because you’re not in class doesn’t mean you can’t study while at work. You can bring your books and study or do homework while on your break. Better yet, look around you for advertisements to study and evaluate. If you work at a retail store, for example, and you’re hoping for an advertising job, evaluate the advertisements around the store. Who exactly is the target market? What message are they sending? Do you think they’re effectively reaching their audience? Treat it as a class assignment, perhaps even taking notes.

It’s no secret: balancing full-time work and school is simply not easy. It requires patience, flexibility, and most of all, perseverance. It may seem like a foreboding path, but it will lead you to success in the end. 

Learn-U caters to both students who wish to learn online and educators wishing to share or sell their knowledge online. Feel free to browse our course catalog!


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