Aims and objectives: To explore the experiences of first-year nursing students, their motivations for working and how they juggled study and other commitments while engaging in paid work. Background: There has been a global rise in the number of students balancing full-time study, paid work and other commitments, with the main antecedent financial reasons. Design: Qualitative exploratory study. Methods: Drawn from a larger Australasian sequential exploratory mixed-method study, this qualitative study was conducted with fifty first-year undergraduate nursing and midwifery students who commenced their nursing studies in 2017. Telephone or face-to-face interviews were conducted with purposively selected students engaged in either nursing or non-nursing fields of work. Interviews were conducted from April���July 2017. Interviews lasted from 15���40��min. Results were thematically analysed. EQUATOR guidelines for qualitative research (COREQ) applied. Findings: Two main themes and accompanying subthemes were identified. The first theme explored students��� motivation behind combining work and study and identified the need for financial security and ���me time���. The second theme ���Juggling many balls��� provided insights into the benefits students perceived, how they kept the ���balls��� in the air and at times dropped ���balls��� while balancing work, study and other commitments. Conclusions: The motivation behind paid work was mainly financial; however, students also reported work allowed an escape and time for self which had social and health benefits. Working provided a range of positive benefits, including a sense of achievement, improved self-esteem and financial independence. Relevance to clinical practice: Being able to juggle and multi-task improved skills such as organisation and the ability to prioritise, all skills that have applicability for the role as registered nurse.