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Juggling work and education


Kathmandu, April 18, 2016: While entering workforce at young age is a compulsion for many, more and more high-schoolers and college level students are choosing to start working, at least part time, in recent times. When asked why, they’ll give you reasons aplenty: “To get an edge over others in today’s competitive job market,’ ‘To earn my own pocket money,’ ‘To get practical knowledge of theories we learn in classrooms,’ ‘To make good use of the free time I have,’ ‘To have something to enlist on my resume,’ etc.

Everyone will tell you that juggling work and education is not an easy task, especially if you’re enrolled in private institutions where strict school/college hours, attendance requirements, and assignment loads can limit your work prospects. This is why balancing office and school is not for the unmotivated. But if you’re willing to work hard and make best use of your free time after school/college, the advantages of working while studying outweighs the disadvantages.

Working while studying helps you understand your lessons better

Especially if your work is related with the degree you’re pursuing. If you’re studying Accounts, working as an Accounting Assistant or even as a record-keeper will help you practically learn things that would otherwise be just another lesson in classroom.

Rajiv Sharma, an associate with Job Dynamics Pvt Ltd who also works as a teacher and trainer in different business schools, says that students who are already working bring a different kind of excitement in class. “They can relate the theories to their jobs and make the classroom very interactive. As they have the practical experience, their knowledge also helps rest of the class to grasp the lessons better,” he observes.

Prayas Rajopadhyaya, who started working as a 19-year-old undergraduate student at a multinational company, says that the work experience proved to be a practical support to the theories that he read on textbooks. He explains, “I could relate the works I actually performed to the things I merely studied, and therefore was able to understand better and bag good scores, too.”

However, the benefits of working should never overshadow the benefits of a well earned education. Juggling work and education can be stressful, especially when you have school assignments to file, prepare for exams, or work deadlines to meet. Despite doing your best, you might need to skip a few classes or the responsibilities you’ve been assigned at work can distract you from studies and vice versa.

Sharma says companies are pretty ‘inflexible’ with their college-going staff. “Just because you’re studying while working doesn’t mean you’ll be given liberty at work. So at one point in time, job demands become so high that students tend to set more priorities at work than in their studies. This might be true when they’re doing well in the job and get promotion, which means added responsibilities,” he says.

Sabina Shrestha, senior marketing executive at a financial institution, recollects how she had to drop her postgraduate exams as she had recently been promoted at work then and she “couldn’t let the supervisor down.” While it didn’t have immediate repercussions, Sabina had to face many questions regarding her time and stress management skills when she applied for jobs in other places. “And I didn’t have a convincing answer to their question. I had started working with a firm belief that I could balance work and studies well, and I had failed doing that. I have now completed my studies and passed with good grades, but I lost one valuable year of my life and that could have been prevented if I were perhaps more prepared,” she says.

To avoid this ‘disaster,’ try not to miss your classes. Maintain good contacts with your classmates and teachers so you don’t miss out on important notes, assignments, and exam schedules. Also don’t hesitate to seek help from family and friends. Let them know that you’re not supposed to be disturbed while studying and working on your assignments.

Working helps you learn valuable life skills

Getting a job is the perfect way to learn how to work in teams and collaborate with people from different backgrounds to achieve a common goal. It is also a great way for you to learn how to be responsible for yourself without being asked, and make you more confident about the decisions you make. It will develop your communication skills, irrespective of the field you’re into, and more often than not, instill leadership qualities in you. It will also help you manage time, because sometimes, the more you have on your plate, the more organized you get. If you’re still struggling with managing time, don’t give up. Make a timetable and stick to it.

Above all, getting a job will help you “value” money. Never again will you spend on whim without feeling a pang of guilt later, because it’s your ‘hard-earned money’ and you’re supposed to spend it wisely.

The work experience will add value to your resume

While teaching and front office jobs are typical first-jobs in Nepal, they are definitely not the only options. You could get a job relevant to your future career goals. If you’re a student of Social Work, seek entry-level positions in development organizations. If you want to pursue a career in banking, even an experience in the accounts section of a local school can count. Well, even if you choose to do something unrelated to your future career, there’ll be many people fresh out of school/college with zero experience while you’ll have the responsibility and experience of your first job under your belt. Also imagine how difficult it is to apply for jobs without proper references. If you work and do your duties well, you can keep that worry at bay.