UT students discuss working multiple jobs

Ikram Mohamed, Life & Arts Senior Reporter

Running on four hours of sleep, Issie Luna runs out of her apartment to begin her 14 hour day filled with classes, work and band practice. 

“I was falling asleep everywhere,” music studies senior Luna said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I must have had (COVID-19) because I’m so tired.’ But it wasn’t (COVID-19).”

​​Nearly 4 out of 5 college students across the country work part-time while in college. Many UT students struggle to balance the responsibilities of working multiple jobs as full-time students. Working every day and keeping up with coursework causes lasting effects on some students’ physical and mental health. 

Toward the beginning of this semester, Luna balanced working at the Butler School of Music and the Texas Union while playing french horn in The Longhorn Band. 

It quickly became too much.

Luna said quitting Longhorn Band felt like the sacrifice she had to make to support herself while not falling further behind in her classes. 

“I knew right away (during) the first week (of school) that my schedule wasn’t sustainable,” Luna said. “I was so exhausted. (Between) taking so many hours, working two jobs and student teaching, … I cried from exhaustion a lot.” 

Before the school year started, history junior Autumn Lanning worked 50-60 hours a week between three jobs. Though they now work only two jobs, they still find themselves exhausted between school and work. 

“I’ve had to miss some class because of work,” Lanning said. “I have an autoimmune disorder (that) sucks all the energy and strength out of me from time to time. … So if I’m exacerbating that with work, it ends up being really difficult.”

Lanning said they would rather not have to balance all these responsibilities, but they don’t have a choice. They work multiple jobs throughout college to pay for their own bills, medicines and doctor visits.

“(I’m) constantly worried about whether or not this shift is going to be enough to make my next bill,” Lanning said. “I regret taking on (multiple jobs and school), and I don’t want to take it all on, but (I) have to deal with it. Once a week, I’ll have an existential crisis where I’m like, ‘This is not what I was put on this earth to do.’”

Parker Kirlew, a psychology and women and gender studies sophomore, currently works at the Gender and Sexuality Center as a senior student associate. She said she wanted another job for an extra stream of income. 

“There’s a huge limitation placed on campus jobs because students are usually asked to have a maximum on their hours, which at my job is 10 hours,” Kirlew said. “I am currently in charge of paying for some of my bills (and) working 10 hours a week wasn’t cutting it.”

Austin Pup Culture hired Kirlew as a kennel technician, and she expected a low-stress environment. However, she said it ended up being the exact opposite. She said as the semester went on, it became too much to balance two jobs and classes.

“It was too much when my priorities started to shift,” Kirlew said. “I was more stressed about how am I going to be able to go into work today when I have all this stuff to do, when it should’ve been the opposite.”

Now, a week after quitting her second job, Kirlew said her life completely turned around. She said she finally has time to do nothing. 

“I’ve just had time to be human again,” Kirlew said. “There’s no amount of money… (or) anything that could be done to make me feel like quitting wasn’t the best decision for me.”