We’ve all been there; a scary boss you don’t know how to talk to about your uni timetable. You can’t ghost in the shadows forever though.
Eventually you’re going to have to tell them when you can and can’t work – and put your foot down if you need to study.
So why not bite the bullet and do it now?
Employers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some students will get a really approachable, friendly manager, whereas others may deal with a dragon.
A lot of us have class timetables that are not 100% what you want and it will clash with your work schedule at some point.
Sometimes you can find yourself prioritising work over class. But the issue is, aside from wasting the good amount of money you spend on your courses, this lack of attendance can translate into poor marks.
Being real with your boss when it comes to time restrictions and hours is vital to juggling both your work and study life, as well as your professional relationship with your colleagues.
We spoke with Greg Ward from Careers and Student Development on how you can nail this balance.
So how should you approach the situation?
It is so important you are honest about your availability. There is no point struggling with an overload of work or skipping classes for the sake of filling a shift if it means your grades will be jeopardised.
You’re studying your degree because you want to pursue that area – keep this in mind when listing your work hours.
From the day you are hired, be upfront that you are at uni and won’t have 24/7 availability.
“Speak with them about long-term career objectives and your interests. You would be surprised how often this opens doors,” Greg says.
“You might tell your boss you are interested in marketing, and they let you spend some time in the marketing department or help them with some marketing tasks.
“Most bosses are pretty good when you have a chat with them about the fact that you have career goals and are generally happy for you.”
Some students give others a bad name for being unreliable, so when your boss works around your uni schedule, respect this and actually show up to your shifts. Keep in mind they have gone out of their way to accommodate your timetable and prove your value.
As Greg points out, your job is something you actually want to keep (although it may not feel like it at 7am on a Sunday):
“Remind yourself of the importance of work. Remember that work is not just something that gets in the way of study, rather it is highly likely to help you secure your next job and pays the bills!”
He also recommends creating a schedule for study and completing assessments in advance, making it easier to juggle commitments.
“Find out when major assessments are due and when exams are scheduled,” Greg says.
“Let your boss know in advance if you need to swap shifts or take leave on certain dates.
“This is a much better option than to call in sick for a shift because you need to study, trying to study at work, or pulling an ‘all nighter’ before an exam.”
We’ve all had that dreaded phone call on our day off – you recognise the number and contemplate whether or not to answer.
If you’re asked to work a shift you wouldn’t normally, don’t immediately say no. If you can do it, do it. We’ve all had a sick day in our life and have appreciated the people who covered for us.
Show that you respect your work and are happy to lend a helping hand when they are in need – but only if you have the time. Besides, what student turns down extra cash?
Coming in on a day off shows you’re flexible and willing to help out, while also earning you brownie points with management.
Maintain a professional working relationship
While some bosses are easier to talk to than others, it’s important you maintain some type of professional relationship.
Don’t avoid eye contact and hide in the storeroom, ask them how they are or if they did anything fun on the weekend.
You want them to know that you aren’t just ignoring their calls or not coming to work for no reason, so talk about what you’re studying, why this is important to you and where you want to end up.
Chatting to and updating your boss regularly keeps a friendly working relationship and reminds them of your value.
After all, all bosses are human and normally don’t mind a bit of office banter.
While telling work about uni commitments can be hard, it’s worth it in the long run. Most accommodate varying timetables so long as you give them sufficient notice.
It’s important to keep a healthy work-study ratio and not burn yourself out. By keeping your boss constantly informed, you ensure your availability is current and you’re not at risk of prioritising work over study.