Deciding to commence or re-commence study is a daunting decision in itself. Add the additional factors of full time employment and already it may seem like too many balls to juggle. I currently find myself in this exact predicament and needing some career advice. After two years of University and no gap year after finishing VCE, I was desperate for some kind of amendment to my daily routine, so I decided to defer my studies. I was lucky enough to be a student who had a genuine passion for their degree and so I decided that my year off would not be spent working at the local supermarket and having extreme weekend benders, but instead I would embark on a year of proactive introduction into my chosen industry.
Upon landing my full-time role, I discovered I not only loved the content of my position but the company I was working for as well and the concept of being a full-time student again felt like I would be taking five steps backwards. So I posed the question to myself and those around me. How am I going to manage full time work with study?
This is what I learned …
Choose the right mode of study– In order to choose the right mode of study, whether it is full time, part time or online, it is very important to be honest with yourself about your study ethic and time management abilities as well as assessing the demands and hours of your current employment. If you are border-lining into the realms of genius with no social schedule intended for the next few years then you may well be able to engage in full time study and full time employment, however for most of us this simply isn’t achievable. For those who still need some exposure to the ‘uni experience’ then part-time on-campus study may be the option for you. This study method allows for face to face interaction with the option of taking 1 to 2 units a semester. The downside of this mode is the unit time tabling constraints. While some uni’s hold night time and early/late weekday lectures and tutorials most universities, (as far as I could find) do not. This makes tutorial attendance tricky if a tute is held during work hours. This reason prompted me to opt for part time, online study. After extensive research I decided this mode allowed for a happy medium. I would have no locked in attendance requirements for my units and I wouldn’t need to take work hours off to make it to my weekly tutes. Win Win!
Talk to your boss about it- I am lucky in that my boss is flexible by nature, but for those of you out there with a manager that is narrow minded, here’s how to paint your decision to studying in a positive light. Introduce the notion by discussing your passion for the industry, then move on to addressing your interest in furthering your knowledge about your chosen career through study. Lastly, bring the discussion back to your workplace by talking about how your more developed knowledge of the industry will benefit your work and in essence the company you work for. As a foot note, it is always wise to mention that there might be the odd instance you’ll need to finish an hour or so early to submit an assignment on time or attend exams, but to maintain equilibrium, assure your manager that this lost time will be compensated with an early morning start or a later finish on another occasion.
Create a schedule- Awareness of due dates for work and assignments is vital. From this, prepare a detailed and complete schedule of how many hours will be required for readings, research and assignment writing. Don’t be unrealistic by not allowing for study breaks, sleep or a social life. The worst thing you can do while working full time and studying is procrastinating to such a degree that you’re up all night trying to write an assignment with an important work meeting the following morning. The most important part about scheduling… STICKING TO IT!
We now live in a world we’re a candidate for a role is usually preferred by an employer of choice if they have a relevant qualification behind them as well as industry experience. The benefits of furthering your understanding of your field via studying are paramount and the best aspect of working while you study is that nothing beats the hands-on, practical experience your job will bring to your understanding of your subjects!
To determine whether returning to study is the right decision for you, Harvest Human Resources offers careers workshops to help individuals make informed decisions about their next career move.
Blog Post by Louise McGuinness, Associate Consultant, Harvest Recruitment and return to study, full-time worker.