Achieving a successful work-life balance as a student can seem impossible. Most students work alongside studying for their degrees and
this can put them at risk of burnout. In this article, Rachel Hounsell-Roberts looks at how the rise in degree apprenticeships, such as the one offered at Iconic Project Management, can help students to earn their degree, while making ends meet and gaining meaningful work experience, without sacrificing their health.
Students at risk of 'burn out'
According to Imperial College London, ‘Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can help to avoid “burn-out” and support good physical health and mental wellbeing.’ The majority of UK students work alongside their studies, with The Guardian reporting in 2014 that 59% of students worked either full-time or part-time. Of those, 55% spend their earnings on food and bills.
The current cost of living crisis has caused an increase in price for food and non-alcoholic drinks, with the House of Commons Library stating that “prices were 10.1% higher in October 2023 compared with the previous year.” For many students, working alongside their studies is essential to cover the basic necessities for life. It’s common for students to rely on part-time work to make ends meet, often in lower paid jobs unrelated to their field of study.
Universities generally recommend that students don’t spend longer than 10-15 hours a week working at their part-time job. However, the current financial pressure on students can make this difficult, leading to a temptation to work ever longer hours around their studies. Working longer than the recommended hours can lead to exhaustion and make it more difficult to concentrate – making studying more challenging.
Balancing work, study and life
It can be easier to balance work and life when studying for a project management degree apprenticeship. Apprentices are required to spend 20% of their working hours concentrating on their studies, with the remaining 80% of their time spent on carrying out their work duties. With the added advantage of being paid a full-time salary, this means that evenings and weekends are free to spend on whatever they enjoy.
As the apprentices' studies are directly relevant to their jobs, employers are supportive of the time spent learning. They will provide all the help needed for the apprentice to succeed in their degree, while the business benefits from having a highly trained employee.
The benefits of a project management degree apprenticeship
The BSc Construction Management degree apprenticeship offered by Iconic Project Management is delivered remotely by the University College of Estate Management (UCEM). The content is available on demand and is not tied to the usual university terms, leaving apprentices free to take holiday whenever they like. The ability to take holiday during term time, when travelling costs are lower, is very attractive.
Studying a degree apprenticeship course in a company like Iconic Project Management means that students benefit from all the company initiatives that are designed to support the wellbeing of their staff. For example, employees at Iconic are encouraged to take a ‘thinking day’ once a quarter; they are given a day out of the office to spend in any way that supports their physical or mental wellbeing. Popular activities on these thinking days include a trip to the local spa, a round of golf, a hike in the woods, or running up and down mountains!
Initiatives like this help aid in lower stress at work and aid a healthy work-life balance. This is good for the business as relaxed employees are likely to be more productive and also good for apprentices who are less likely to suffer burn-out. Mental and physical wellbeing initiatives tend to be less available in the typical casual jobs that occupy most university students.
Make the best choice for you
Overall, it’s important for students to prioritise what’s most important to them and make a study choice based on that. Some students are able to balance their studies more effectively, or don’t need paid employment to support their studies. Others will be drawn to the university experience, which they may feel a degree apprenticeship lacks. However, for students who are looking to combine both work and studies, an apprenticeship is a route that allows for an effective work-life balance.
Trainee Project Manager
Rachel is one of our Trainee Project Managers. She completed her A-levels in Business, Geography and Drama before taking a year out to travel, visiting Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
She is looking forward to learning more about project management and is excited to see where this apprenticeship will take her!