According to new research from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), today most postsecondary students are working and going to school. “The nature of work requirements have changed over time,” said report coauthor Nicole Smith, a Research Professor and Chief Economist at CEW. “The fast pace of technological growth has made it necessary for individuals to be always upscaling their skills and credentials.”
Technology has not only changed traditional jobs, but it has also created entirely new job categories. Many jobs that exist today may not have existed 10 or 20 years ago, such as jobs in healthcare IT, cybersecurity, big data, data analytics, and app and mobile development. Companies want to hire well-rounded individuals who can understand the technical aspects of their job while also having leadership and management skills.
At Georgetown’s Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE), our certificate programs are designed to provide students with real-world skills they can immediately apply in the workplace as well as a better understanding of the competencies they may need in the future. Wondering how you can upgrade your skills while still holding down a full- or part-time job? Here are five tips for balancing work and school:
1. Build A Support System
Having a strong support system can make or break you. Whether it’s family, friends, or a mentor, you need people around who can help you stay motivated and remember your passion for the career you’re preparing for.
2. Plan Your Academic Path
Set goals and figure out what steps you need to take to reach them. Do you need six courses to complete your program? Find out when they’re offered and talk to an advisor to get help mapping out your course plan. Every student is different and talking to an advisor can help you decide if you should take classes back-to-back or give yourself more time to absorb the material.
3. Time Management Is Everything
It’s easy to forget about school when you’re working long hours or focusing on a big project at the office. Take a few minutes each morning to think about what you need to accomplish and the steps involved. Knowing what success looks like before you start will help you manage your time intentionally and keep track of anything you’ve missed.
Can you do your class readings on the train to work? Could that client meeting happen at a restaurant after class? Finding ways to knock out small pieces of each project will help you stay on track.
4. Bring School To Work
Whenever you can, try to use your work as a case study in your class projects and put your class projects into practice at your company or organization. This will help you learn to apply the concepts you’re exploring in the classroom and make a big impact at work.
Make sure your manager knows you are going to school. Bringing your boss into the conversation will help set expectations and could open up new opportunities. Some employers offer funding for employee education or professional development that could help you pay for school, and your manager might be willing to be flexible with your schedule if you can show continuing your education in a certain area will help you make positive changes at work.
5. Harness The Power Of Teamwork
One of the best parts of going back to school while working is that every class is a networking opportunity. Look for opportunities to form study groups or partner up on assignments and build relationships with your classmates. Working in a team can increase your learning and also give you insight into the way other people in your industry work.
Bonus tip: Love what you’re learning! We’ve all become full-time students now simply because the pace of technology and the skills that are needed change so fast. In today’s environment, you have to constantly reinvent yourself.