Student or Learner
For each of the following 4 sentences, will you use when or while?
I will be appreciated if you could tell me some reason.
I was a part-time sales, when/while I studied at the ABC University.
I learned good IT skills, when/while I studied at the ABC University.
I learned good IT skills, when/while I worked at an IT firm.
I obtained good results for all of my projects, when/while I studied at the ABC University.
I'm not 100% sure about the first sentence, however, I would not use while in the other three sentence.
While is more used to describe actions that happen simultaneously.
I talked to customers while writing letters.
The rain became harder and harder while I was watching TV, that's why I had no channels anymore.
So, learning IT skills and obtaining good results aren't really actions.
P.S: But I think also your first sentence should use when.
**Neither a teacher nor a native speaker.**
However, I personally would accept either when or while for each of these sentences. I would agree with bhaisahab that "while" would be the most likely word for sentences 2 through 4, but I do think that "when" works, as well. At the same time, I would drop the comma. However, I am not so sure of this and would welcome any other points of view on either of these issues.
As for "when" and "while," choosing one or the other does change the meaning of the sentence, although perhaps only slightly. I would say that "when" puts the emphasis on something happening at a particular time or period --whether or not there was any causal connection, while "while" tends to put an emphasis on the connection between the two, suggesting, for instance, that the IT skills-learning arose directly out of the work being done at an IT firm.
I am having a hard time putting my finger on the exact difference, though. I would welcome any other thoughts on this -- or on the appropriateness of a comma in your sentence.
Thank you for raising such an interesting issue!