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Powering Through JSOM as a Working Student Part I

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During the spring semester of 2017, I entered into graduate school to pursue an MS in Marketing and an MS in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I had taken a one-year break after earning my bachelor’s degree at UT Dallas in order to get work experience in “the real world.” I came back in order to take full advantage of my fast-track courses, and I came back as a working student. It was one of the most challenging semesters of my college career as I adjusted to taking on a full-time course load while working 30+ hours per week.

Whether you are new to being a working student or have been doing it for quite some time now, keep reading to discover helpful tips on how you can make the most of your time in graduate school.

At the end of my first semester of grad school, I reflected on what helped me manage my time well. Here are some tips based on my experience:

1. Know your end goal. What do you want out of graduate school and working? Do you want to land your dream job? What skill sets do you need to learn? What does your dream job require? Align these with what classes you want to take. Write down your goals for each semester. Every month or so, reflect on what you accomplished and what you didn’t scratch off the list. How can you improve next month?

2. Know your schedule. I kept two planners: my Life Planner to keep track of life events and hangout dates outside school and a School Planner to keep track of test dates, homework due dates, project deadlines and group meetings. I wrote out all of my school deadlines at the beginning of the semester so that whenever someone invited me to do something, all I had to do was check my School Planner to see if I had any deadlines coming up that I needed to work on that weekend. With this system, I managed to complete my first semester with all A’s.

3. Remind yourself of the opportunity. After getting off work at 5 p.m., I had to go straight to school, eat dinner, then attend my night class from 7 to 9:45 p.m. When I got home that night, sometimes I had to study some more. It was so easy to feel sorry for myself for having so much to do; but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to think this way. I had to remind myself that graduate school is a lifetime opportunity that not everybody gets the chance to do. Having a job is also a blessing and an opportunity. I get to have a source of income, I get to apply what I learn from class.

4. Take it one day at a time. This is something I learned at the end of the semester. I always worried about “what I had to do tomorrow.” I was stressed ahead of time. How am I going to possibly do all of this? Next semester, I will do my best to just take it one day at time. I should only focus on the tasks I have to do that day and enjoy the learning process.

5. Focus on learning. Before starting graduate school, after gaining one-year’s worth of work experience, I decided that I didn’t want to focus so much on what grades I made, but instead focus on what I could learn. I tried my best not to put things off until the last minute or study for a test last minute so that I could actually remember what I learned. At the end of the semester, after the grades were turned in, I visited my Product Development professor to get feedback on our final project.

6. Conquer the adjustment period. I realized that the first semester of working while studying will be the hardest because it is the adjustment period. I started slow by taking three classes (9 credit hours) while working 30 to 33 hours per week. I was very overwhelmed at times, but I know that it will only get easier from here. 

MaJennine Maninang

MaJennine Maninang graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration in December of 2015 with Magna Cum Laude honors. She is now pursuing her MS Marketing and MS Innovation & Entrepreneurship degrees at the Naveen Jindal School of Management while working as a Marketing Coordinator at a brokerage firm. In her spare time, you can find her reading at Barnes & Noble or studying at a chic café. Read more articles

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