Juggling Work & Grad School

Hi! My name is Dunia and I am a second-year MSW student at BU School of Social Work majoring in Clinical Practice and specializing in Behavioral Health. This is part two of my two part series all about balancing your life in grad school. If you missed part one, you can read it here.

As a student pursuing the full-time MSW program while working part-time, I hope that sharing my experiences in this blog will be helpful to those of you considering the same. 

Finding Balance: Work as a Form of Self-Care 

Being a graduate student is challenging. No sugar coating here. MSW students juggle the demands of school and field internships, but we also have our personal lives, and some of us also need to continue to work. Believe it or not, it is possible to do all of this. Not only is it possible, but it can even be a form of self-care. Yes, I said it: work can be a form of self-care. It is all about balance.

Getting Jobs Outside of Social Work to Prevent Burn-Out

While in school, we are so immersed in the field that it’s easy to lose yourself in it. Finding a job outside of social work was an important way for me to prevent burn-out. There are so many part-time jobs offered in and around Boston. It’s all about finding the one job that you’re really interested in and will enjoy.  

I looked for opportunities at a florist, gym, day care, coffee shop, bakery, restaurant, and a bridal boutique. In the end, I decided the bridal boutique in Back Bay was the right job for me, and I have kept my job there throughout my time as an MSW student. I work on weekends, dedicating 16-24 hours a week to my job. What I have found is that employers understand the demands of a graduate student and will work around your schedule. School comes first! Advocate for yourself! 

I love working at a boutique because I don’t have to think about what I am learning in school or what I am experiencing at my internship. Like I said previously, work can be a form of self-care. Doing something outside of social work reminds me that solving the world’s problems is only one part of my life. Working at a bridal boutique helps me maintain a healthy balance for my day-to-day world view. 

If you want a part-time job while in graduate school, a great place to start your search is at Boston University. As a BU student, you have access to the Student Link where part-time jobs (which are available both on-campus and off-campus) as well as quick short-term opportunities (such as research studies and babysitting) are listed.

Can You Really Balance Everything? (Spoiler Alert: Yes, You Can!) 

Some might wonder how balancing your life in grad school is possible. My number one tip is to find a school schedule that works for you.

The Registrar’s Office is SO helpful when planning out your school schedule. Classes are offered throughout the day, so you might want to take an early morning class and then work later in the day. Or you can work during the day and take classes at night. Some internships may require certain days of the week, while others are more flexible.

How I Handled Shifting Schedules from Year-to-Year

In my first year, I interned on Tuesdays and Thursdays and dedicated Mondays and Wednesdays to school. I worked on the weekend, and had an arrangement with my employer to work three days a week every other week, leaving one day to do schoolwork. You will always have to do schoolwork so managing your time is key! 

In my second year, my internship required me to change my entire schedule by dedicating three days to field placement. Luckily, I was able to work with my professors, internship, and part-time job to make it work. Scheduling classes my second year was a little trickier because some classes were not offered on my off days. As a result, I had two days a week where I had to double up on school and my internship. To be honest, those days were exhausting. I had 8:00am-to-9:00pm days interning during the day and taking classes in the evening. 

At times like these, we have to admit we’re not machines and know where to pull back in some areas of our lives. Prioritizing my schedule helped me find a solution. To help lighten my schedule, I dropped down to working two days per week at my bridal boutique job. In my case, I was required by my employer to only work on weekends, but you can find a job where they offer more availability during the week if you want to have your weekends open for schoolwork and personal life.

At the end of the day, balancing grad school with a part-time job is all about finding a schedule that works for you. By understanding your priorities, your limits, and your needs, you can achieve a fulfilling and well-rounded grad school experience. 

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