You are young, full of energy and eager to learn. You can certainly cope with your studies and one to two part-time jobs. You do not want to put an additional burden on your parents’ budget. Having a job will help you gain practical experience…There are many factors that make student jobs seem like a good option.
However, let’s adopt a more balanced or even conservative approach to work and study that will focus your mind on making the most of your Master’s degree programme.
Secure funding in advance
There is a huge number of Master’s degree programmes in the world. The diversity is amazing – in terms of curriculum, teaching style, international exposure, and any other aspect of a university programme you can possibly think of. This is true for tuition fees and living expenses as well. The variety of Master’s degree programmes may be overwhelming when one starts selecting the right ones. But it also gives you the opportunity to find the best options, not least in terms of your budget.
Be very pragmatic when it comes to paying for your education. Do not put yourself in the trap of having to rely on student jobs in order to support yourself during your studies. This strategy may have a negative impact on your overall graduate school experience. This is especially true if you want to study abroad. Student jobs should be your last option and should only cover a minor part of your budget.
Always make sure that you have the full funding secured before you begin your studies. Calculate whether you have enough funds to cover your tuition and other university fees, books and supplies, medical insurance, local transportation, meals, lodging, travel and unexpected expenses. If you want to study abroad and you need a student visa, the embassy will require that you provide evidence of full financial support. But even if you are not in this category, make sure that you have the funds upfront. This will help you make the best of your graduate studies, including having student jobs if you want.
Respect visa and employment regulations
In many countries there are regulations which limit the number of hours which international students can work. These regulations aim to ensure that you have enough time to commit to your studies. If you hold of an international student visa, make sure you get advice on your rights and limitations. Violating the status of your visa may have serious consequences.
Off-campus student jobs, part-time opportunities or illegal work do not pay well, so you cannot earn much to cover costs. Calculate carefully and think well whether it is worth it to rush to one or two low-paid jobs that deprive you of sleep, time to study or extracurricular activities at school.
If you are eager to lay your hands on some practical work, select universities carefully to see whether they provide on-campus student jobs. One such option is the so called “graduate assistantship”. This is an opportunity to work for the university and get paid. In most cases, your on-campus job payment covers directly some of your costs and you do not actually get cash. For example, you spend some time coaching the soccer team at the university and this covers half of the fees for your residence hall. Alternatively, you will be assigned to assist a professor and this covers part of your tuition fee. These are just some examples, but the variety of on-campus jobs may be quite diverse.
The assistantships also have a limit on the number of hours you can spend working. In addition, assistantships require that you maintain good academic standing so if your academic studies start suffering and your score/GPA drops, you will be deprived of your assistantship. Again, the purpose is to help you remain focused on your studies – the primary goal for which you are at the university.
Internships are another positive option for student employment. Their focus, however, is that they help you to gain practical experience related to your studies. They are not intended to pay for your education.
Many internships are not paid, meaning that you do not get paid for the work you do for a company, but, equally, you do not pay the company for the training which they provide. There are, however, internship opportunities which provide some payment the students. However, as with other student job options, what you can earn will not be sufficient to cover your expenses.
In you want to gain practical experience relevant to your field of study, certainly take advantage of internship opportunities. They are more a type of professional training than merely a source of support.
Be aware of a further risk with internships or part-time jobs. You may enjoy the job so much that you are tempted to quit your studies. This is certainly not a good idea. If you made a really good impression on the company, you will always have an advantage at a later point for future roles with them. At this stage your primary goal is to make the most of your Master’s studies and to receive your Master’s degree diploma.