What is Work-Life Balance Anyway?

Posted by Liza Davidson on Oct 9, 2014 9:47:00 AM

When considering how to balance your life, taking on a full-time job while completing a full-time Master’s degree is not the most obvious choice.  After graduating with an undergrad at the University of Rochester in sunny, upstate New York, the majority of my friends and I were unsure about what the next year life might offer. Would we go to grad school? Would we be working?  Would we travel? When it comes to setting up your personal future, there are a variety of choices a person can make.

In reality, everyone creates their own destiny.  Therefore, it is up to the person whether or not they want to keep gaining the skills they think they’ll utilize in the future.  Whether it is working a 60+ hour week for a startup or balancing a standard 40+ hour week with a few evenings of school, it must fit your personal needs and desires. There is no right answer.  Most people know that going to graduate school is to advance their skills in a specialized area. But in today’s world, people tend to be more dynamic in their background, and most college graduates will work in a multitude of jobs before they find their dream career.

I chose to take on graduate school while working full time as a recruiter. From my personal experience, I have some pros and cons to engaging yourself in the busy lifestyle that I have paved the way for myself.  I am not advocating for people to take on this challenge, but it is something to think deeply about when planning for your future:

Pros:

  1. Engaging 

    Whether it is a lecture, an event, or just working on a group project, graduate school gives you the chance to be part of a greater community.  Unlike undergrad, people are of all ages and backgrounds. This makes for a rather interesting dynamic of human collaboration. Trust me; a dull moment is a rarity.

  2. Injection of Knowledge 

    No matter what advanced degree you take on, there will always be something new for you to absorb. Too many people get caught up with the same work or material for years.   Graduate school, however, allows you to think outside your comfort zone and learn new information.

  3. The Challenge 

    Most people are exhausted from a normal day in the office. Now imagine doing that and coming home to read 65 pages for a lecture or write a 10 page memo for next week.  There are plenty of ways to be challenged in life.  Regardless, some people elect to take on the world of academia.

Cons:

  1. Busy, Busy, Busy 

    Some people barely have enough time for their families, let alone taking on additional work outside the office.  If you are not willing to make sacrifices in your already busy life, taking on graduate school may not be the ideal route to take.  Remember, time is the most precious entity in life.

  2. $$$ 

    There are plenty of companies who are willing to send their employees to graduate school. If this is the case, do what is best to advance your personal career.  However, without this benefit, you must seriously consider your ROI.  Is this degree necessary for your future? Are the upfront costs going to pay off down the line?  If not, you have some serious thinking to do.

For the majority of people, unless you are truly fascinated by a certain area or sector, the work experience (especially for the money in our current economy) will truly outweigh your advanced academic investment. For some, balancing both a job and school will not only help their personal engagement in their passions, but may even make them that much more attractive to future employers down the line. To reiterate, there is no right answer. Every person is different, and every person should do what they believe will help them best prepare for their future goals.

To finish off my thoughts regarding these life choices you may contemplate at some point, I would like to quote one of the most influential entrepreneurs in our lifetime. His words summarize the belief that every person must follow their own dreams, not someone else’s. I cannot tell you who to be, nor can anyone else. You must follow your own dreams!

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

Topics: Work-Life Balance, Career Growth