I’ll start by saying that working full time and being a full-time graduate student has been probably the most challenging yet rewarding experience I’ve ever gone through. I would like to think that I prove to myself on a daily basis the depths of my strength, the intensity of my endurance and my ability to prevail against the odds.
However, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge all of the nights that I literally cried my eyes out asking myself why I decided to do this, or the weeks where I would average four hours of sleep because a client campaign and two sets of 20 page papers collided. So the short answer to if full-time employment and full-time grad school are possible is yes, I’m nearly three-quarters done with my graduate program and am doing very well, but it is extremely difficult and requires intentional persistence.
Here are some tips:
Time is literally one of the only things in this world that we can’t get back once spent, so please value it and force those around you to value it as well. Try developing a schedule. For me, Saturday’s are my days to rest, hangout, be lazy etc., but Sunday’s are the days that I shoot to get all of my homework done that’s due in the coming week. Also, think about how much time you waste on social media that could be repurposed with purpose.
I talk about perspective in a lot of my blog posts so I won’t spend too much time here, but my current mantra is that “It’s a temporary set-back for a permanent set-up.” Tell that to yourself when you’re thinking about throwing the towel in.
3. Know your personal band-width:
Know how many classes are too many to have on your plate at one time. Know if you're an online or in-seat kind of learner. Know if you have enough gas to take on summer classes, or if you need that time to recuperate. Truly be in tune with yourself and your self-care needs. The last thing you’ll want to do is burnout, and forfeit all of your hard work.
4. Understand the cadence:
Finals during my first semester of grad school fell during the meatiest part of the holiday season for Walmart, and I was drowning in work from every angle and averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep per night to get it all done. Though everything got done, you can only imagine that the quality of each had to suffer a bit because I was spread too thin. Know when the busy times of work are and schedule you courses accordingly. Or if you have to take a specific course during a semester be sure to plan ahead. Professors place all of the big projects to come on your radar during the first class, as daunting as it may be, get a head start so that you aren’t rushing once the due date arrives.
5. Block out Doubt:
Block out anything that may condition you to think that you can’t push through. Whether that be a person, or self-doubt, block it out. Also, be sure to lean on your biggest cheerleaders, bounce your ideas off of them. Share your aspirations with big thinkers, as that can all work as motivation to help move you towards the finish line.
I hate to sound like a cheesy t-shirt quote, but you can truly do anything you put your mind to. The first step is within you.