DEV Community


Posted on

How I stayed organized whilst studying a Computer Science degree and working a job📝

Have you ever wondered what it's like to study and work, and how to handle it? I hope to go over these things in this quick post.

At the time of writing this, I've completed the first two years of my Computer Science degree and during those years, I needed to work to aid myself financially.

For reference, I worked in retail as a Customer Assistant, between 20-30 hours a week, so a lot of the information will be based off of that experience.

What it's like to work and study👨‍🎓
Working and studying can be difficult but rewarding. You're able to earn money, which you'll probably be needing, whilst still being in full-time education. Alongside that, you're building on many 'soft' skills which employers actively look for, including: teamwork, organisation, communication and time management.

As great as this is, it can slightly diminish your university experience. For example, you may need to turn down some social events, or struggle to actively participate in university societies. This really depends on how many hours you are required to work.

However, you can certainly find your balance, and participate in the things you want to do whilst working! I'll move onto some tips I can offer to help the study-working life experience.

My tips to handle working and studying☑️
• Write all of your deadlines down in one place

I kept a list which looked like this in Evernote. This meant that I could see all of my deadlines in one place, and plan my studies to target each deadline - ensuring I'm working towards each deadline / examination as equally as possible.

• Create weekly and daily plans
Planning is something which I think every student should do - irrespective of whether they have a job or not. This allows for you to allocate time to your studies, but also time can be set aside for your personal life.

In my case, I would open up Google Calendar and plot the following things:

My class schedule
My work schedule

From this, I could use the 'free' blocks of time to allocate towards my personal study time, and any other things I had going on that week.

Once I had done this, I'd be able to create a daily plan. For example, I could plan a Monday in the following manner:

Classes: 9-12PM
Personal study: 1-4PM
Work: 5-10PM

I'd go into more detail for my personal study, for example: "Spend 1 hour on the Algorithms and Data Structures unit" - in this study session I could be brushing up on some lecture notes, or working on some lab work.

Each day would differ as I'd have more classes on some days compared to others. I had days in the week where I did more studying than others.

In summary, planning is a way for you to plan ahead, stay on top of your workload, and ensure you stay focused and on-track all week - all whilst managing to work your job.

• Take your studies seriously right from the beginning of the academic year
Yes - I'm indirecting those who leave things to the last minute - do not do this if you have a job! You'll only make things more difficult when your deadlines and exams approach, and you're left with insufficient time to prepare because you still need to keep working at your job. Your job won't suddenly stop when you have a bunch of exams and deadlines coming up.

Once you've been set an assignment, get that deadline written down and start working on it as soon as possible. For exams, I'd advise keeping up with your lecture content right from the beginning - I'd write all my notes up for each week as consistently as I could, well ahead of the examination date. After that, keep reading over those notes at regular intervals so it stays fresh in your head.

The benefit of doing all of this? Once your deadlines and exams approach, you'll be one step ahead because you started studying early on. This will mean that you'll be able to successfully work the shifts for your job whilst sitting exams and submitting assignments.

• If needed, take time off work using any holiday / annual leave
You'll probably have some sort of holiday or annual leave system in place at work. If you know that certain study periods will be busy, you can always book these times off. I'd advise letting your employer know as soon as possible, because last minute accomodation for time off is a tricky thing to do - especially in a fast paced sector like retail.

So that concludes this post about working and studying. I wanted to keep it brief yet try and provide as much information as I can. Find me on Twitter and Instagram, and reach out to me if you have more questions. Alternatively, leave a comment on this post and I'll get back to you.

If you found this useful, share it with others who may find it useful! Thank you for reading😊👋🏽

Top comments (9)

lotusgirl69 profile image
Candice • Edited

Thank you. I found this article particularly helpful. I’m a single mom with two kids and enrolled in a coding bootcamp. Sometimes I get so frustrated I want to quit. I’m going to follow your advice. I think life would be much simpler if I had a better work-school-life balance. I’m going to create a simple rails todo app for students;).

yusufcodes profile image

Hey Candice, thanks so much for reading my post👋🏽.

Much respect to you for getting into a bootcamp whilst being a motther to two kids! Getting that balance is really not easy but taking the steps to try it can certainly help. Good luck with the bootcamp😊

ballen2713 profile image
Bartholomew Allen

Hey man great article!

Definitely inspires me to tackle my last semester with all that I have but reading this post is a fresh air especially since I have worked throughout my college career up until last semester but everything you mentioned is so true and makes sense. Although there are few things I wish I had done better in the past but now know what I need to do from your post! Thank you again my friend!

yusufcodes profile image

Hey man, thanks for reading my post!
I'm glad you could relate to the post, and hope your last semester goes well. 👌🏽

diglopes profile image
Diego Lopes

There is no better time to do something but now

yusufcodes profile image

Hey Arber, thanks for reading my post😊

For me it's about discipline. I know that, if I don't stick to my study plans, I will fall behind and struggle with everything. This fact alone usually helps me stay on track.

For the times where I feel demotivated or burnt out, I try and take a small break from everything and come back to things later.

Hope this helps!

diglopes profile image
Diego Lopes

Very helpful article!
Sometimes I think that life could be so much easier if I start to planning my daily activities, your words here showed me that I have to do this right away!

yusufcodes profile image

Thanks for reading Diego. Planning things out certainly helps, the stress of not knowing what's going on is totally eliminated. 👌🏽