Working outside of graduate school

As the start of fall term quickly approaches, I need to figure out whether or not I should quit my retail job or possibly go from full time to part time.  Since I’ll be getting a stipend (one that I can live entirely off of), any money I would make would ideally go to my student loans.

Technically, according to my school’s graduate student handbook, I can have outside employment.  However, the tone of the handbook sounds like this is not encouraged and it seems like outside work is generally disapproved of in academia.

Can I handle the additional work load on top of TAing and school?  I don’t know, possibly.  In a perfect world, I would work just one 8 hour shift a week.  Right now that doesn’t seem like a huge chunk of time out of my week.  Also, my department seems to go by the work hard play hard mantra.  I know several students that spend a lot of time doing hobbies like body building or triathlon/marathon training (I know, my dept is really athletic).  So I think I could get away with working without people noticing.  Also, if working my retail job proves to be too much, I can just quit.

I am seriously leaning towards keeping my job.  I know I’m pretty lucky to have a stipend, but having over $57k in loans sometimes feels overwhelming, and I feel like I should do everything in my power to pay them off.  Whatever decision I make, I need to do it soon.  The window where I  can change my hours at my retail job is the last week of July.

Graduate students: what would you do?  Would you work outside of academia? Could you handle the additional workload? Is the trade-off of your spare time for money a fair one?  Advisers: would you approve of this?


About myscientificlife

Welcome to myscientificlife! I recently completed my undergrad at State University. I am currently taking a year off of school and applying to graduate schools. This lovely blog is mostly about my journey towards grad school and other things I find interesting, such as food, podcasts, and books. Probably mostly food. You can reach me at
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2 Responses to Working outside of graduate school

  1. Daimia says:

    I’m starting my third year in grad school. My offer letter explicitly said that I would not be allowed to have outside employment so it was never an option. Theoretically it can be done, but I can guarantee that you won’t be able to sustain it throughout grad school. I’d suggest testing out the waters in the beginning but not being overly upset if you realize that you can’t keep the job.

    • I am taking a month off of work to see how my schedule works. Right now, it seems like my teaching assignment is going to take a lot of my time, so I don’t think I’ll be able to handle more than a shift or 2 a month. Luckily it’s enough to keep my discount through the holidays.

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