Words of Wisdom: Reach your goals while managing your busy life
Is it time to advance your career? Are you wondering what can set you apart from others in your field or in the job market? If you are ready to grow in your professional life, earning a graduate degree is a good place to start.
Fitting a degree into a busy schedule can be challenging, but definitely worth it and manageable if you take a few steps to ensure success before you even apply. This episode of the ElevatED Podcast features University College alumna, Martha Valle Veltri, who shares her reflections and experience as a very busy graduate student, as well as how she juggled all that was on her plate while pursuing her degree.
Start setting clear professional goals
Now is the time to put some serious thought into where you hope to take your career. Even if you don’t have your entire professional future mapped out, an idea of what you are hoping a degree can do for you is important.
“You should be pretty clear about your professional goals. It really helped me to know because I knew that I wanted to work up the ladder. I wanted to grow into a leadership position,” said Martha.
Be realistic with your time
Time is one thing you need to be very honest about before you apply to graduate school. What are your other responsibilities? Realistically, what time can you spare a week to devote to your educational goals?
“Be realistic with what you can balance. I don’t regret for a single minute that it took me three years to finish my degree instead of two,” said Martha. “I took one class at a time, and it really helped me to absorb the material, have time to spend on my homework, work full-time and still see people every now and then.”
Martha estimated she spent about 10 hours a week on each online class.
“That was pretty realistic for me, at least. Especially because I wanted to really do well, and I wanted to absorb the material and take my time with it.”
Build your support network
“Be really mindful of your support team. Make sure that your family and your friends know how important this degree is to you,” Martha said. “The last thing that you want is somebody trying to convince you to blow off your homework. People mean well, but your close circle really needs to support you and be understanding that when you turn them down for a social event or whatever it is, it’s because this is something that’s really important to you.”
In addition to ensuring your support outside of school is solid, seeking out others within your educational experience is just as important. Talking to somebody who’s been in the program can give you an idea of how they balanced work, life and schoolwork.
“I can’t say enough about talking to somebody who’s been in the program. It really helps to get a realistic view of what the program is going to demand from you,” Martha said. “It helped soothe my fears, too, about whatever my concern was at that time. Somebody can help walk you through it and help you understand that the program will work for you and those negative thoughts are just in your head.”
Listen to the full interview with Martha and hear more of her helpful tips on the ElevatED Podcast below.
Catch up with the entire ElevatED Podcast.
The ElevatED podcast is a space for conversations around elevating teaching practices and applied learning for post-traditional students.