January 28, 2020

Balancing Work, School and a Social Life

By Vaia Trittas, current MS in Professional Writing student and Program Administrator, A.S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies, NYU

It is challenging and rewarding to balance a full-time education with a full-time career. The NYU School of Professional Studies (SPS) grants working professionals - like myself - the flexibility to absorb a full course load at our own pace. The online program offerings at SPS made my return to school a possibility. 

I am now a full-time Program Administrator at NYU and a full-time student in the M.S. in Professional Writing. As I complete my first semester, I reflect on the learning curve to simultaneously maintain my quality of work in the office, retain readings and finish assignments for my classes and enjoy personal time for myself. Here is what I learned from this demanding, yet exciting juggling act:

Time can be a motivating and comforting friend, or a knock at your door that you avoid at all costs. At the start of the semester, “Time” shook me awake at 4:00 AM and told me to get a move on. I woke up hours before I headed to the office to anxiously finish readings, write forum posts, and draft assignments. Needless to say, I quickly realized how important time management was to maintain my peace of mind. To manage my time better, I began to read class resources on my commute to work, shakily highlighting passages as the train stopped. I also drafted outlines of my assignments on my phone’s Microsoft Word app. For group assignments, I added comments to an offline Google Doc for my groupmates to review. I headed into the office with confidence and relief after I finished a few hours of schoolwork during my morning commute.

Organization is key. Married with time, organization becomes a security blanket for full-time students who also work long hours. When my course lessons were released on Monday, I compiled a ‘to-do’ list after work, and assessed my administrative priorities in order to clearly visualize my week’s full workload. I also considered busy times at work and consulted my syllabi beforehand to get a stress-free head start.

It may seem like a towering feat to enroll in classes with an already long work week, but with time, organization, and empathy, it can be a fulfilling experience.

The author in her office near Washington Square Park.

Empathy offers its helping hand to me in my e-classrooms. My program’s Academic Director Kristine Rodriguez Kerr has been a support throughout my journey with SPS. She encouraged me to reach out to my professors before I began the semester. Although my courses are online, my professors constantly offer their expertise, additional resources, and kindness every week. The diversity at SPS is immediately apparent: my classmates range from full-time industry professionals to full-time parents, and most of my peers live in different time zones. Empathy and communication have been invaluable tools during our group projects.

After I changed my work habits, my full-time studies organically intertwined with my administrative position. I weave my program’s lessons into daily professional situations, and have become a better professional writer as a result. It may seem like a towering feat to enroll in full-time classes with an already long work week, but with time, organization, and empathy on your side, it is a fulfilling experience.

If you are trying to balance your work, life and a job search, the NYUSPS Wasserman Center for Career Development can help through one-on-one coaching sessions and tools to help you manage your job search. And don’t forget that you have access to LinkedIn Learning via NYUHome, including: Organization and time management, Getting Things Done, Organization and skill considerations and Time Management Fundamentals.

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