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Is working while in school a big deal to employers?

  1. Sep 5, 2011 #1
    Right now I'm at a community college and I am a semester or two away from transferring to the local Uni in the Chemical Engineering program. I need some advice. So far in school I've been working part time and going to school part time. As many of you probably know, working while taking these strenuous math/science/engineering courses can be extremely stressful.

    Well, I have a significant other who is pressuring me to stop working, let her support us while I hit the books full time. The problem, she says, is by working I will significantly I will end up taking longer to finish. She's right, however for multiple reasons, I am hesitant to oblige.

    1. In this economy, I'm scared to let this job go. Even though it's only a part time job making around 13 an hour, I've been with the company for 4 years now. My boss treats me well, and I still get benefits despite only being part time. (Basic health/dental/tuition reimbursement).

    2. If/when I graduate some day, would it look bad to potential employers if I stopped and had a 2-3 year gap in my employment history?

    3. Money will be tight, but it is doable. I have some cash saved up, but I will probably have to take out some loans. I was hoping to graduate with no debt, but the loans won't be too big and should I actually become a Chem E paying them back won't be a problem.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2011 #2
    If you are in school, it's not a gap. I'd even say it would be to your credit that you went back to get your degree.

    Who knows what the economy will look like in 2-3 years, anyway?

    If you are blessed with an understanding spouse and think that you can swing the finances with a minimal amount of loans, I would say going back full-time is definitely the way to go.
  4. Sep 7, 2011 #3
    Is there anything that prevents you from taking your time? You may take longer to finish, but is that necessarily a bad thing? We probably can't answer that for you...
  5. Sep 7, 2011 #4


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    I worked while going to school, too - mostly basic low-level lab jobs. Yes it's a huge stress - you really learn how to manage your time, that's for sure! It took 9.5 years to get through. Quite a slog.

    While I was in school, I was envious of fellow students who could devote themselves full time to their studies.

    But when I graduated, I had 6 years of lab work to put on my resume next to my BS degree. That helped me immensely, as employers like work experience as well as education. I also had a lot of industry contacts, which I didn't realize the value of at that time. Even now, 20 years later, those contacts remain extremely valuable.

    Your job could be giving you value beyond just the paycheck and benefits: experience and contacts. And it's another big plus if the job you have is related to science or engineering.

    At the time, I hated that I had to double up work and school. I now realize it was a good move.

    (Btw, those are great benes for a part-time job!)
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