Graduate School: The Balancing Act

Welcome new and returning graduate students of Emerson College! As we’re now in September you’re going to be immersed in all things graduate life. With this will come a shift for you in regards to work, study, future internships, and personal obligations. In short: It’s no secret that the work and life balance becomes more of a balancing act when you’re in graduate school.

So, in an effort, to help you manage that balance, we’re giving you a few quick suggestions to strategize and motivate yourself this semester while creating a fulfilling time throughout the duration of your program:

The following are some suggestions to strategize, stay motivated, and set yourself up for success in the semesters ahead!

1. Take An Inventory

Between projects, papers and reading, there will be plenty to juggle. For that reason, it’s important to review all of what’s required of you from faculty between now and the end of the semester. In other words, don’t just wing it. This may seem like a given, but something to consider: you may think that with an undergraduate degree under your belt that this isn’t necessary but don’t underestimate the need to plan ahead. This kind of thinking can easily land you in some panic mid semester, which of course never makes meeting deadlines fun! The best start to time management is having a clear picture of what needs to be done and when. Open up that calendar!

2. Know The Expectations

Part of time management is having a clear sense of the quality of work you want to do with the time you have. In graduate school, expectations are higher, so planning your professional goals needs to happen sooner than later.  This time around it’s more about:

  • Your area of expertise: Think about what you’d like to specialize in within your field of study.
  • Skill Development: What are the key skills you need to learn, revisit and refine so that you’re marketable?
  • Experiential Learning: What are the types of internships that will provide you with the skills and expertise you want?

3. Set Goals

Make sure they’re measurable goals that can be broken down into steps. When thinking about the big picture, it’s helpful to create a “to do” list of daily, weekly, and then monthly objectives so that you can hit the larger goals leading up to graduation and as you continue with your career. If this is something you’re still struggling with, don’t hesitate to reach out to career services and we can get you started.

4. Know Your Best Hours

There are those of us who do well in early in the morning and others who need at least a few hours (and coffee) to hit that peak time when they’re the most productive in the day. While life obligations can get in the way of maximizing that time, the more self-aware you are about when you’re the most focused, the better you can prioritize. Make those hours count.

5. Use Technology to Your Advantage

With apps, Google Calendars, and numerous online tools to help you balance life in general, we’re not without resources to help us stay organized and on track. Be sure though that you’re using technology and not the other way around. What we would definitely like to offer for your consideration:

CareerBuzz

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Facebook Groups like Emerson College Internships or pages like our main Career Services page and our emerson NEXT page.

6. Self-Care

Part of being successful during grad school is knowing when you need to take a break and recharge. There can be more at stake during grad school due to many out of school responsibilities, so students may become worried about losing drive, being overwhelmed, and not prepared for the next step. There is also the pressure for perfection because this is a higher level of education and professional development. It’s important to think about a self-care plan for rest, exercise, social time, or even just time for quiet, be it with a book (not school related!) or meditation. While time can be limited, using some of it for rest can help avoid burnout.

7. Build Your Career Communities

Now is the time to connect with faculty and peers, and get to know employers and alumni who partner with Emerson College Career Services. These partnerships take on many forms, one of which is through emerson NEXT, a program that connects with graduate programs via tailored programs and resources. Everyone has a series of steps they need to take to define success on their terms. Throughout the year career services will be on hand to visit classes, facilitate networking, and offer career education to graduate students based on programs and professional development needs.

All the best for a great year and career success!

Check out our Graduate Career Guide Resource:

By Jessica Chance
Jessica Chance Assistant Director, Liaison to Alumni and Graduate Students Jessica Chance