Work Promotion While In College?

by Judge Josh on October 25, 2010

Maggie’s been offered a promotion! But it’s the one time in life where she’s not actually sure if she wants one — while she’s a full-time college student.

Dear Judge Josh,

I’m a junior in college, but I plan on being in school for a couple more years at least. No rush on graduation!

Good for you. I hear the opposite more often that not around here, but graduating super-quicklike isn’t critical. Stop and smell the roses, indeed.

I’ve been working part-time since I was fifteen and have gotten used to the grind. I recently took a lower-paying, easy-pie retail job so I could focus more on school now that I’m getting into harder classes that require more of my time. But! I’ve done so well at this easy-pie job that they want to promote me to assistant manager!

work promotion

Nice! I feel an interesting quandary coming on…

I’m really excited, but I don’t know if I should take the job. School is more important, of course, but right now I barely make rent and I’d like to be a little more comfortable.

Makes sense. The great Bret Michaels once said, “Not a dime, I can’t pay my rent, I can barely make it through the week” is no way to go through life, Mags. :)

I’m paying for school with 100% loans this semester, which hurts. The promotion won’t mean an increase in hours, but will mean a raise and some benefits, like health insurance.

No extra hours, but more money, benefits, and of course some managerial experience and responsibility to put on your resume later. So far, you can consider me Team Take The Job, but let’s continue…


I’ll have to move all of my classes to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays which will mean long days.

Yeah, but I’ve done that before and it wasn’t too-too bad. I actually stacked 18 hours into Tuesdays-and-Thursdays only, and that was brutal but still doable. I wouldn’t worry too much about that part of it.

I’ll only work Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends if I take the job. I really like my workp lace and I would love to have more responsibility there, but is it smart to be taking on more responsibility while I’m in school?

Hell yeah! I mean, you know, provided it won’t crumble you to the point of flunking out, but it doesn’t sounds like you’re too worried about that. And if you’re not, I’m not.

Otherwise, we’re basically talking about a semi-permanent internship here. Same thing, really, but even better — you’re at the middle-management level (instead of coffee-fetcher, as is sometimes the case with internships), and you’re actually getting paid better money, and benefits.

So yeah, I have no problem with adding responsibilities while you’re in school, especially if they’re job-related ones that can help you get a bigger, better job later!

(Incidentally, I don’t know where you work, but if you like your job and company, then they may keep you on in a bigger and better capacity after you graduate — especially if you do well as assistant manager while carrying a full load of coursework)

Should I stick with the easy-pie job, or is it a good idea to take the management position?

Yeah, here’s the long and short of it — the offer on the table is benefits, more money, same hours, and at the very least a good resume entry and some management experience. That’s the upside.

What’s the downside? Having to stack your classes on MWF (meh, no biggie), and having more things to be responsible for at work. Those are the only two drawbacks that I can see, and neither is severe. This one passes my cost-benefit analysis with FLYING colors.

— What do you guys think? Is an assistant manager job too much to take on while jumping into your upper-level courses, or should she tackle all of it? Let us know in the comments below.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Renata Scheibler October 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I’m a full time college student (3rd year) and even though I’m majoring in History (so many readings to do), I take as much as extra hours as I can. I don’t regret cutting trips or weekends off of my plans in order to catch up, since I see this situation as temporary. I work to make as much as money as I can so I don’t have to work (at least, not full time) through Grad School, which is my objective.

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Lauri October 25, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Ah, yep! Take the job. Entering the job market in this economy (and what I’m sure will be a lengthy recovery) will mean your wages will track lower than anticipated. Anything you can do to improve the odds is worth the effort.

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Rob October 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

There is nothing better make more $$ with the same amount of hours. You just have to adjust your study habits. This will also help you get better grades because you will be managing your time more. Also you will save more money as well. Take the promotion good luck

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John October 25, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I recently was put in the same position. I decided to take the job and I’m telling you it is working great for me. The job does however require me to be up earlier than usual, but I was able to adjust to that quickly (especially for the increase in wages!) I have managed to keep on top of my classes, but it requires you to be extremely organized. You have to make sure that you not only have your work duties in check, but also your schoolwork and homework. It can be a little painstaking at times, but hang in there I’m sure you can do it, especially after you see that first new, larger paycheck 😀

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Leeja October 25, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I just turned 38, I’m just starting my senior year, working full time, and I have a son who is a senior in college. Yes, my situation is a bit different than yours, but the principle is the same. I’ve found that it’s not so much the amount of stress while you’re at work as the number of hours that it takes away from your studies that causes a problem. I just put in my notice and will be starting a new job next Wednesday that is closer to home (2 hours a day of study time reclaimed!) but at for the first month will mean a pay cut, and they don’t currently have benefits, but hope to get me to help them add them. My job responsibilities where I am now aren’t that huge, just time consuming. Aside from the hour commute each way, I’ve been working 45-50 hours a week until the last 2-3 weeks, and I worked in the next state/time zone. That meant I have to be up at 5am, on the road at 6, and if I get to leave on time it’s at least 5pm before I get home.
My point is this, if you can make more money without taking additional time away from school, and you know the job is not going to stress you out terribly, go for it!

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Hamida October 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Maggie should definitely take the job!Especially since there won’t be an increase in the amount of time that she must commit!

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Summer October 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm

While making money is never a bad thing is the cost outweighing it’s benefit? I think you have to evaluate your approach to work to be able to answer this question. Are you the type of person who can clock in and out and call it a “job”? or the type that would take their job VERY seriously and say “yes” to everything even if it interferes with your life? I recently quit my job because of how serious it became, it wasn’t my career yet i loved the thrill of moving up and the responsibility i had, I felt like an “adult”! I loved my job, however, with responsibility comes stress, going in when people are sick ( which believe me its often, especially during summer), making sure your phone doesn’t leave your sight etc. Personally, if i were in your shoes i would stay focused on school. If it isn’t important for you as to when to graduate, maybe take less classes and take the position. But don’t lose focus and get sucked in. If school is more important to you now, make sure you remind yourself of that and view this as a temporary situation. Good luck!

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Malachi October 25, 2010 at 7:41 pm

It depends on how well you can juggle your priorities, by this point you should have a good idea of what you can and cant handle, even if you havent been in this exact scenario before. I worked fulltime and went to school full time for most of junior/senior year. It looks really great on your resume with the degree. Management experience is highly desirable, and in this job market you want to do whatever you can on your history to make yourself more attractive.

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Ed October 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I would tell you if you can handle the workload, do it. Managerial responsibility will open doors in your career. Plus more money for the same workload would do good. It sounds like you are able to balance all of this responsibility and you are in no rush to graduate, go ahead and try this.

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Grey_GirlPTK October 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I say go for it. The same hours, with more pay..? Why wouldn’t you do it.

If you are worried about the job getting the short shift just let your boss know your situation. Be honest. Let them know you believe you can handle the promotion, but your main goal is your education. So stress keeping your hours the same, and that you will continue to give the same quality of work as before. This keeps the job from teying to creep up the amount of hours you work, and also reassures them that you won’t lower your work ethic. A win-win situation.

Also if you plan on staying with the company after you graduate see if your company has any kind of matching, or scholarship fund for employees. Afterall, your education contributes to your good job performance.

Good luck:)

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Cori K. October 27, 2010 at 3:27 am

Take the promotion! If you don’t have to put in more hours, then go for it. Worst case scenario, you realize that it’s too much with your courses, so you’ll adjust: just take one less class if you feel the pressure. You yourself said you’re going to take a couple more years to graduate, so if you have to cut out a course or do some courses over the summer or intercession break to spread things out a little, you have the option. The management experience is worth way more than blasting through your college experience.

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Richard Rios October 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Well first, if I was in your shoes, I would have to weigh my options and decide if I wanted to make the job I have a career. If I did, then I would take the promotion and delay school because the school will always be there. If I didn’t want to make my job a career, I would turn it down and focus on whats more important (school).

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Bridget November 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

If you’re not really working more hours during the week then I think it may actually benefit you since you will be able to concentrate on either school or work on specific days all day. Just make sure that any classes in your major will not conflict, like how some courses are only offered once a year and there aren’t many choices of times to take them. As long as your employer knows that you will not be able to put in overtime or pick up extra shifts then take it.

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