University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog | Joyce


Can I Work In Grad School?

, by Joyce · email · comment

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My answer to you would be that it depends. I know, everyone’s favorite answer to hear. However, I say it depends because it truly is dependent on the kind of learner you are and how efficient you are in managing your time.

In the beginning of the program (summer session) I chose not to work because of the intensity of the program (M-F 8AM-4PM). In addition to the academic and coursework, I was also couch hopping because I literally picked up my entire life and moved across the country. There was a lot of instability and uncertainty during that summer and if I were to add that extra dimension of work, I knew it would take a physical, mental, and emotional toll.

Thankfully I survived the summer program and in the fall semester, I began my Adult Rehabilitation Immersion. Each practice immersion varies but the Adult Rehabilitation one is known for its intense studies in various medical diagnoses and conditions. Therefore, I decided that this semester would not be the best semester to start working because I would much rather absorb and obtain this information to the best of my abilities without any other distractions. Not working and taking out additional loans opened up space in my schedule to read my notes and study a few extra hours.

It was when I began the Mental Health Immersion that I felt that there was enough room and space in my life to add a part time job. Therefore, I began to work as a hostess at a Korean BBQ restaurant. My shifts required me to be in on the weekends. I had a great time, it was nice to be involved in something non-OT related. Don’t get me wrong, I love the profession and I love the people that I interact with but working at a restaurant brings about a different kind of aura. I met many international travelers (as our restaurant is rated 4.5 stars on yelp and highly popular amongst tourists!). I enjoyed the customer service aspect and even casually conversing with people as they walked in and out of the restaurant.

I came home pooped from standing all day but it was nice to be able to make some money and use a different set of skills. So to answer your question, yes it is possible to work while you study. But in the midst of it, remember that you are still a student first and that your academics takes priority. Something that I have learned to do is weighing the pros and cons of the situation. Is it worth losing three hours of sleep every night to work a few hours and do homework to earn maybe $50? I guess it would depend on the kind of part time job you decide to pick up as well. I have classmates who babysit for higher rates for shorter times and others who work longer shifts in the food industry but making most of their income on tip. 

So, is it doable? Yes, but it depends.

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