The most common question I have been asked during panel discussions, prospective student visits, and interviews is “Is it possible to work and go to school at the same time”? Well, I am here to answer this question once and for all for everyone: it depends. I know, I know. That is likely not the answer you were anticipating or wanting to hear, but it’s the truth! Every person is different. Every person’s capacity is different. Every person’s needs are different. Because of this, there is no one answer to this question. However, today, I will tell you about my experience balancing work and school.
This semester, in addition to taking 6 classes (20 credits), I also have two part time jobs. (I got exhausted just typing that out!) I am a Graduate Assistant for Heller’s Admissions department, hence the beautifully written blog posts you all receive from me regularly ;). I also work as a Program Manager for a local non-profit organization dedicated to healthy aging. I started both jobs in the same week and about a month after classes started (it was a very busy September). Combined, my jobs take up about 20-25 hours of my week outside of class and each requires something very different of me. As a GA, I spend the majority of my time talking to you all through emails, visits, and interviews. As a Program Manager, I am responsible for making sure programs run smoothly, grant reporting, meeting with local stakeholders, and whatever else is needed (such as being a website designer…). My GA role is in person while my other role is remote. As a GA I have a structured weekly schedule, but as a program manager I set my own hours. (Side note: flexible, remote jobs can be equally amazing and tricky. While you can work when you want and in whatever attire you want, the battle between napping and productivity is real and difficult every day. If I am transparent, napping has won more daily battles than productivity…) These two jobs are very different in so many ways. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and each is teaching me something new almost daily! I share this information for two reasons: to show it is possible to work and be a full-time student and to also show the range of jobs accessible at Heller and the greater Boston area.
Now, before you run to start submitting job applications, let’s all take a step back and remember what I said in the beginning. Everyone is different. It has taken much trial and error to learn how to semi successfully balance school and work (not to mention extracurriculars). I have three different calendars and alarms galore to help me manage my time, and even with all of that, some days I still get behind. So why do I do it? Two reasons: capacity and need. As a person that loves being on the go, I tend to be energized by doing. I love being a busy bee and I haven’t run out of capacity (yet… we’re coming close). Also, life in the Boston area can be expensive (especially for a girl coming from Oklahoma!). As I said, everyone’s needs are different and right now, mine require a little extra money for monthly movie outings to keep me from going crazy :).
So there ya go! Is it possible? Yes. Is it necessary? That’s up to you, your capacity, and your needs. Either way, make sure what you’re committing your time to is serving you just as much as you are serving it.