Workin’ 9 to 5: How to Balance Grad School and Career

Laura Hartman, MCM Candidate, Class of 2015

Several years after earning my Bachelor’s degree (in Psychology) and entering the workforce, I decided to return to school as a student in the MCM program at USC Annenberg. I now find myself in the rewarding, yet sometimes challenging, position of juggling between classes and my job in graduate recruitment at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Here are my tips for surviving the juggle:

1) Be Proactive

Check out the course syllabus before the semester starts, purchase your textbooks early to get a head start on reading, and mark your personal calendar with key grad school deadlines

2) Find Your Perfect Study Space 

Get out of the house (if you can) and find a place to study that suits your needs – maybe it’s a busy coffee shop or a quiet local library or maybe you thrive in the great outdoors

3) Reward Yourself

After an intense study session, reward yourself with a sweet treat, cocktail, or your favorite activity. If Saturday is your regular study day, then give yourself time to relax on Lazy Sunday before a busy workweek begins again

4) Lean on Friends

If you’ve been out of school for a few years, then many of your friends and colleagues may not share your study schedule - Do share your goals and successes with your social circle though as they will cheer you to the graduation finish line

5) Connect with Professors

If you have a scheduling conflict or an issue making a deadline, reach out to your professors for guidance (many of them have been in your shoes before!)

6) Network for your Future

Take advantage of the great array of career events offered at USC Annenberg – you may make a connection that leads to the next step in your professional journey

7) Stay Healthy

Sleep, Exercise, Diet…you know the drill! A healthy mind and body is the foundation for managing a busy, productive schedule

…but above all, HAVE FUN!

The best part of graduate school is getting to share the experience with like-minded individuals who share a passion for personal growth – don’t forget to enjoy the process along the way!