There’s no sugar-coating it. Studying part-time while working full-time can be hard for a myriad of reasons. My biggest challenge was that I needed to close such an extensive technical skill gap toward the data science career path. This was somewhat offset by the fact that my day job wasn’t too demanding and I wasn’t caretaking anybody. The challenges and advantages will look different for a software engineer with two young kids and a working spouse, or for an actuary with a 70-hours-a-week job. Here’s my approach to achieving a work-life-school balance and succeeding in MIDS.
- Prioritize what matters to you. Don’t forget to revisit the priorities as things change.
- Make purposeful trade-offs. You can’t have it all, at least not simultaneously.
- Take breaks. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Recharge every once in a while and balance the workload.
- Keep moving. Keep your eyes on the prize, a.k.a why you joined the program. With all the resources that MIDS has to offer, if you keep moving toward your goal, it will pay off.
In the sections below, I’ll describe in detail how I applied these principles.
To start with, here’s an overview of my academic activities over the years. The Hours/Week column represents approximately how much time I spent on each activity per week.
I put a lot of time into school. On many weekends, I was studying (or grading when I worked as a TA) 8–10 hours a day. Monday through Thursday, I tried to spend 1–2 hours a night. These hours increased if an assignment was due. I saved Fridays for a little bit of wine and TV. “This is fine,” I thought. “I would have just wasted this time anyway, so I might as well study and be productive.”
Despite the workload, everything seemed so manageable when I first started the program. I cooked in larger batches and prepared ready-to-eat meals on class days. I planned my work meetings so that I would be home in time for the live sessions. Whenever I could predict it, I scheduled my PTO far in advance around assignment due dates or other busy weeks. I was transparent with my colleagues, who understood. I skipped birthday parties so I could finish homework over the…
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