College Connect Spring 2019: What to do when your campus job is a brain drain

Posted By Aimee O'Grady on Wednesday May 29, 2019

By Payton Cousins

What do you do when your job is intellectually and mentally exhausting? What do you do when you need more hours to make more money, but you don’t have the brain power to keep working?

This is a problem that I experience all the time. I currently work as a writing tutor at the University of Missouri, which means that my job is basically helping students at any stage in the writing process. It can be in any topic, from Engineering, English, Political Science… I have even edited creative writing pieces for Literature and Film Writing classes.

Let me start by saying it’s an absolutely amazing job and I love the work environment. It’s a very rewarding job, my coworkers are amazing, and I look forward to going to work every day.

That being said, there are some limiting parts to working in intellectual field. Jumping from paper to paper and switching gears can be mentally tiring.

There are lots of jobs just like mine that are available to students. Whether it’s tutoring, administrative organization, or other kinds of intellectual work, jobs that require the same skills you use for homework can cause burnout. Especially when you take on too many hours. Balancing a need for money and a need to take care of your mental health can be very difficult.

Here are my three tips for college student balancing an intellectually strenuous job and a need to make money:

  • Budget! Budget!! BUDGET!!!

Trust me, budgeting time and money goes a LONG way when managing your intellectually strenuous job.

When you find yourself strapped for cash and need more money, you are more likely to push yourself over the limit working more hours.  I learned this the hard way last finals week, when I worked 20 hours over the course of four days.

  • Space it out.

Don’t be afraid to take small breaks while you’re doing your job. If you’re tutoring, this can be something as simple as having a short conversation with your tutee about something other than what you’re working on. Take a five-minute bathroom break. Give your mind a breather so that you can reset and refocus.

  • Be honest with your bosses

If you are facing burnout or find yourself over extended, it’s better to tell your bosses sooner than later. You don’t want to risk doing less than satisfactory work just so you can get paid; in intellectual jobs, this could mean causing a student to get a lower grade or jeopardizing their GPA. It’s important to be honest rather than rich.

One last piece of advice: be in tune with yourself! Figure out your limits and make sure that you don’t overextend yourself. Once you find out your limits, you will be able to operate at a healthy mental state and may even one day be able to push them.

Remember, the more you budget, the more control you have over your situation.

Cousins is a junior at the University of Missouri.

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