How To Juggle Work and School

by on August 11th, 2012

Hi this is Anna Runyan and welcome to another episode of the Classy Career Girl podcast! I wanted to give a shout out to those of you who have tweeted me about how much they are loving the podcast! Thanks so much to  the Unversity of Minnesota-Duluth Career Services! Ellen who tweets for UMD Careers says that she is loving the podcast and highly recommends them! Thanks so much for spreading the word and I hope that my podcast and blog is helping your college students!!

I also wanted to say a big thank you to the first cohort of the Get Unstuck course! I had such a great time going through the course and working with each of you in the course. Now that the course has finished, I have opened up the course again so that you can go through it on your own at your own pace. You will have the opportunity to watch all the webinars and videos whenever it is convenient for you. So definitely check that out if you are feeling totally stuck in your career. You can find more information at 

So this morning and I had an interview with a reporter from the Chicago Tribune. This was my very first interview with a reporter and I am usually the one doing the interviews on my blog! So I was kind of nervous but super excited to talk about the subject which was how to juggle going back to school and working a full time job. I know all about that and I love speaking about it so the interview went great! Thanks to everyone who wished me luck on Twitter this morning as well. So  I wanted in this podcast first to go over a few of my tips on how to juggle work and school, then I am going to play my interview with ChaChanna Simpson. ChaChanna is going to give us a bunch of tips on how to manage our time better and how to find work life balance. Then at the end I am going to answer a question from a reader about how to handle the interview question – why do you want to leave your current job? Or why did you leave your job?

So if you are thinking about going back to school and considering possibly doing it part time. Here are my tips for juggling work and school that I told the reporter from the Chicago Tribune this morning!

How to Juggle Work and School

So I chose to go to school to get my MBA part time because I loved my job and I didn’t want to leave it. But I needed more of a challenge in my job and I knew I needed more education and training to take me to the next level at my company.  So I researched MBA programs near me in San Diego and decided to attend the Flexevening program at the Rady School of Management. I knew it was going to be a challenge but I was ready for it. The first year was tough, all I could do was survive and I definitely had to prioritize the important things in my life.

For instance, my husband is very important to me so I made sure I made time for me. But, my social life and my friends definitely suffered but the close friends understood and I did the best I could to keep in contact with them during breaks or when I had free time. Before you head back to school, you have to set expetations for yourself and know that you wn’t be able to keep up all of your relationships, get an A+ at school and not let your work suffer. Something is going to give so don’t try to be perfect at everything.

Just focus on the things that are the most important to you. For me, that meant that my house wasn’t as clean as I would have liked but I definitely didn’t have time to clean it. So learn to say no to things that you may not have time for but be sure to make time for networking! It is so important and truly is one of those thigns that you will leave with and will have long after you are done getting grades. I just went to an alumni networkin event the other night and it is amazine how supportive my classmates are and what great, lifelong connections we all made with each other because we all went through it together and survived!! Forunately, for me my program offerd us dinner so it was a great time to get to know my classmates and catch up with each or finish our homework!

You also want to make sure that your boss and work is supportive of you going back to school. That helped me a lot because I could use my lunch break to study and everyone knew that I had to leave at a certain time each night to get to class. Also, make sure you take time to do things you enjoy and plan vacations. Like on the weekends try to give yourself some free time so you aren’t studying all weekend and working all week. That can get tough. And make sure you keep your workout schedule because that will reduce stress a lot!

I am really glad I went back part-time not only because I had a job at the end but because I could apply what I was learning eveyr night the next day at work. Especially the soft skills like teamwork and leadership that applied to my job.  I actually got promoted during my MBA program and my managers could tell that I was leanring something and applying it to my work which was really awesome! And made all my work worthwhile! :)

Although the years were a whirlwind, I am very happy I made the choice to continue my education.

I have found that although I currently have a job I love, I am now performing even better and also finding new opportunities that better match my interests and skills. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to keep my income and not have to worry about finding a job when I graduate.

Before starting school I tried to mentally prepare myself for this juggling act. But, the truth is I really had no idea what to expect.

Also, remember that technology makes the juggling act easier. Having access to my school email on my phone while I work allows me to stay connected with my group and make changes to projects at the last minute. With all of my classmates juggling so many responsibilities, it is almost impossible to get us all together in one location. Fortunately, Skype allows us to hold group meetings virtually. Also, don’t worry if you have to travel frequently for your job. Professors are very understanding of work travel and my school even videotapes classes for us so we can watch them online when we return.

The one thing I learned the most about grad school is through group projects and working on teams. I have learned that other people juggle their responsibilities differently than I do. I try to get work done as early as possible but others in my group wait until an hour before a paper is due to finish. I have learned to respect others juggling habits which has allowed me to be a better manager.

Also, Organization is key! Before you go to bed, figure out the plan for the next day. Look at your schedule and figure out what meetings you have, what is due and where you need to be when. For me, this means making sure I have all my school books and a change of clothes with me when I leave for work in the morning. I schedule some time each Sunday night to review my plan for the week. This helps me prioritize and be prepared when other tasks pop up at the last minute.

And in the end as crazy as life gets and when you have no idea how you will make it through the quarter, you will survive. It may be one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life but it will be over before you know it. If you can succeed in working and going to school, you can succeed in anything.

I hope this information has helped you see the benefits and struggles of going back to school while keeping your day job. It may be tough but I encourage you to take the leap because it can make a huge difference for your professional success.

Now, speaking of work life balance and time management, now let’s listen to my networking interview with ChaChanna.

Click here to watch the video and get the transcript of my interview with ChaChanna.

Alright, I hope you enjoyed the interview with ChaChanna. Not only do I love her name, but I loved that during the interview I was totally relaxed because I feel like I know ChaChanna even though we have never met in person. She has been a faithful blog reader and supporter from the beginning of my blog and networking challenge so thanks so much ChaChanna for all of your support and positive thoughts! I love in the interview how she talks about how women can let other people’s priorities get ahead of their own. I think this is so important because we need to make ourselves a priority and what we desire because it is so important. If we just do what other people want us to do, and keep putting our dreams on hold, we will never reach those dreams and goals and we will be unhappy about it later. So think abot what you need to make a priority in yoru day and turn off the TV or wake up 15 minutes earlier and make a small step in that direction of your dream!

Interview Question: Why Do You Want To Leave Your Job?

So our last question comes from a Twitter follower and she asked  “how to handle the interview question – why do you want to leave your current job?  Or why did you leave your job?

Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. My favorite way to answer this question is to say that you are ready for a new challenge and to turn it into a positive that you are ready and motivated to take on something new and learn something new. List all of the accomplishments that you did at your last job and then just say that you are ready to do more but just at a different company or at a different industry. If you are changing posititions, it might be a little easier because you can say they didn’t have the position at your previous company. It’s always good to say that you are looking for more growth and what you will get to do and learn in this position you wouldn’t be able to learn at your previous company.

So I hope that helps you at your next interview! Because you will probably get this question! It’s definitely a common one because managers are trying to uncover some dirt that you might have! To see if you would be the right fit!

So that is it for today. Thanks again for listening and I will see you next time on the Classy Career Girl podcast!

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