The Balancing Act: Combining Work and Study
It’s hard to believe that winter is setting in and it’s nearly mid-year! A few years ago, I made the decision to further my education (while continuing to work), so this time of year brings with it university exams and planning for the semester ahead. I now have a habit of using the start of each semester as a time to take stock of my goals and aspirations, and evaluate my next adventure or challenge. If you’re considering studying, either for your own personal interests or to enable a career change, I know this can be a difficult decision, so would like to share my experience to help you get through that tough evaluation process.
Returning to study, or beginning studies for the first time if you haven’t before, can be a daunting experience on its own. Working 9 to 5 (or as is perhaps more common, 8 ’till 6) in a full time position can be stressful enough, even without taking into account the other aspects of life such as relationships, family, parenting, socialising and other life commitments. All of which can be time consuming and can leave you struggling to grab a minute in the day to relax.
Working as a Consultant at Madison, combined with studying a Bachelor in Business majoring in Human Resources and Marketing, keeps my plate pretty full on an everyday basis, not to mention the other commitments in my life. However to me the challenge is worth it, as I believe strongly in taking opportunities for personal development.
I have been inspired both professionally and personally by my role model, Nelson Mandela. One of his key teachings led me to making the decision to further my education:
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine; that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
If you have a similar, education-focused goal, I have jotted down some tips, based on my first-hand experience, that have regularly helped me with simultaneously pursuing my career and pursuing my degree. I hope that possibly these may assist some aspiring employees to further their career and grasp that dream job.
- Take the first step and research what educational programmes or courses are available to further your career and lead to a higher position within your company. Find out about which specific courses would help you; perhaps it’s a Post Grad certificate or diploma, MBA or other relevant courses to your career pathway.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice; people love to help. Ask employees who have the type of role you aspire to, both within your company and in other organisations, what they did to get where they are now.
- Find institutions or universities that can accommodate you with a learning pathway that can provide a flexible programme or course.
- Embrace time management. This is the most important aspect of studying while working full time. Create a “life timetable” that includes work, study time, family, social activities, etc.
- Actively use the institute or university’s student care facilities that help with giving advice and guidance with your situation.
- Network with people in your course, and also in your company, who can help you in a particular field of study. Even talk with your managers who will likely give you a helping hand or advice.
Applying this approach has helped me get through the initial decision-making process of discovering my career pathway, and then passing my tertiary papers. In a previous role it also helped me to obtain a promotion; I was focused on seeking advice and networking with my managers and was able to demonstrate and relate my learnings to my work responsibilities. This was noted by my managers and I was subsequently promoted into a sales managerial role. Combing work with study may be a challenge at first, however it can be incredibly rewarding as you progress, both professionally and personally.