The Art of Balancing Work And School

There is no denying that going to school while working is challenging. To improve your career opportunities in the future, you’ve got to complete your higher education. But you must also gain professional experience to reach said opportunities. How do you do both? How do you dedicate the appropriate amount of time and attention to school and work when both require so much? It’s called BALANCE.

Working a learnership while attending university is comparable to walking a trapeze. It’s scary, nerve-wracking, a bit exhausting on the mind and body, and requires major strategy. That’s where the all-important balance comes into play. Here are 6 easy and effective ways to get through your learnership while attending school.

Be Transparent From The Start

Before you even accept a learnership opportunity, it would behoove you to notify your supervisor of any and all other obligations you have. Being straight from the start will not only make it easier to navigate and negotiate your schedule, but it will also show that you are responsible. This gesture will be attractive to any superior because it demonstrates your cognisance for commitment. He or she will rest assured that you will treat your job and the company with the same respect.

If you have classes all morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, say that you are only available after noon. If you must pick up and babysit a younger sibling at 3PM each weekday, speak up. You don’t want to catch a new boss off-guard on the first week of work by saying you can only work until 2:30 when the rest of the office stays until 5. If they are made aware prior to hiring you, they will likely find a way to work with your schedule.

Make Time For Yourself

This is honestly one of the most important aspects of working a professional job while getting an education. Balancing work and school can be extremely taxing. It is important to go out of your way to make time for your mind, body and soul. If you don’t, it WILL eventually hit you like a ton of bricks. Take an hour each day to perform breathing exercises, to read, to exercise, to do anything that isn’t work. It doesn’t need to be a consecutive hour if you are truly pressed for time; it could be as simple as going on a 5-10 minute walk around the block every other hour to stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air. Dedication to your work IS important, but so is your health and well-being.

Find Your Own Flexibility

A very common misconception is that in order to participate in a learnership, you must be available Monday to Friday from 9AM to 5PM. You don’t. Supervisors tend to be pretty understanding of students’ schedules and are happy to accommodate. They’re there to teach you while reaping the benefits of your skills, right?
Propose your own schedule. Maybe you are required to work 30 hours a week, or 270 overall, to successfully complete your learnership program. The problem is that you have a jam-packed Tuesday and Thursday. What do you do? Pitch a Monday-Wednesday-Friday learnership program, at 10 hours a day. Or, maybe you are taking night classes but have availability during the day time. Suggest working Monday to Friday, but at 6 hours per day. There are many possibilities; you just need to be open and communicative about your needs and schedule. Chances are your supervisor will be receptive and able to work with you. Creating your own schedule only makes life easier for them.

Explore The Remote World

If you are a student working a research and/or data-driven learnership, find out if there are any opportunities for you to work remotely. Most of this type of work is performed on a computer and can be done from the comfort of your own home and on your own time. Got some extra time after class? Perfect opportunity to put the finishing touches on your research. Not all supervisors are open to this type of suggestion, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If they say they cannot allow it, don’t let it be the end-all-be-all. If they are ok with it, don’t bite off more than you can chew or take advantage of their flexibility.

Set Clear Goals

Time is valuable and it flies. Learnerships seem to begin and end quickly as it is; now imagine how fast it will go by if you are going to school at the same time! Before committing to a learnership while going to school, set goals for yourself. Determine what you want to learn on the job, how many genuine contacts you want to gain, what types of projects you want to be involved in, and how the experience would ideally enhance your education and career down the line. The more you plan and prioritize your goals, the more organized and successful you will be – regardless of how busy school or career might get.

Master The Art Of Time Management

Scheduling and time management is a big part of being a professional. If you can’t allocate your time properly, how are you going to complete all of your work? Working a learnership while in school is the perfect opportunity to master this seemingly simple concept. Get a planner – the kind with timeslots, not the kind small blocks for each day. Map out all of your classes, the learnership hours, and when you will work on each outside of the set schedules.
Rather than sitting at your desk after hours wondering what you are going to start with, sit down knowing that TIME A to TIME B is dedicated to completing homework for CLASS 1; TIME B to TIME C will be spent completing a task that you didn’t have time to finish at your learnership; TIME C to TIME D will be a dedicated gym break, etc. There is so much to be said for having a plan rather than diving in blind.

Work and school CAN work in harmony if you put your mind to it!