Will I Have Time to Work During the Master’s Program?
November 4, 2020
As the Nov. 1 application deadline has just passed, I have been receiving many questions from prospective students about balancing a job and graduate school. Although this experience will vary from person to person, I thought it could be helpful to give you all a bit of insight into my experience balancing work and graduate school!
The Entry-Level Professional Master’s program begins with a jampacked 8-week summer semester in which you complete foundation-based courses like Kinesiology and Neuroscience in an extremely short amount of time. This makes for a high intensity and fast-paced semester with class from Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm and a few hours studying upon your return home each afternoon. I, therefore, chose not to work during the first summer. I had also just completed my undergraduate degree a week before beginning the Master’s program and hadn’t even found a place in LA to live yet! I was grateful to have a few hours on the weekend or on Friday evenings to apartment search, find a job for the fall semester in my new neighborhood, and get to know the fun city I was living in.
During my Fall semester in the Mental Health Immersion, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was in class three days a week, completing my Fieldwork I one day a week, and had my Friday’s completely free! This allowed me more time to take on a part-time job as a gym receptionist and sales associate at a gym near my apartment. They allowed me to work extremely flexible hours, as they understood I was not available during most of the week. I worked the evening shift after school one night a week, the Friday afternoon shift, and a weekend shift, which all combined to approximately 20 hours a week of work on top of graduate school. Was this easy? No . . . it was really overwhelming at times and I did not have much time to participate in social or revitalizing occupations (such as sleeping a sufficient amount of hours every night!). I am very thankful that I was able to fit in some studying or homework during my work hours if we were having a slow day, that I loved spending time with my co-workers, and that I was allowed to take a free workout class during each shift. If this wasn’t the case, I do not think I would be able to commit 20+ hours a week to a job while completing my Master’s degree (also I wouldn’t recommend it regardless because it was TOUGH). I continued this workload during the following Spring Semester in the Pediatrics Immersion. It was nice to make some money and work on applicable skillsets for the OT field, such as adjusting your communication style depending on the customer, giving clear and concise directions, or staying organized and calm during chaotic or unforeseen situations.
At the end of my Spring semester, I was exhausted and I needed a change. I knew the Adult Rehabilitation Immersion was coming next and as a student interested in working in an inpatient hospital setting with adults in the future, I wanted to have more time to focus on all the valuable coursework. The Student Ambassador position became available and as a previous college tour guide, I was thrilled by the opportunity to step into a similar role for a program I love dearly. After applying and interviewing, I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the Student Ambassadors and was extremely thankful for the expectation that we were to work 10 hrs/week. On top of that, working for the Chan Division allows you a lot more flexibility with your hours, as the faculty you are working for understand the workload you are trying to balance. Thank you to Kimberly Kho, our AMAZING supervisor/boss, for being so flexible, understanding, and respectful of our busy and ever-changing graduate school schedules. Kim has always reinforced that academics takes priority and has allowed us to adjust our schedules to provide more time on particular weeks to study for exams, write big papers, etc. Visit Yna’s blog to learn more about what we do as student ambassadors!
From my experiences, you may have noticed a trend. Can you work in grad school . . . yes! It is doable depending on what job it is and how much flexibility it allows you. I am grateful to have had understanding bosses and incredible, fun, and kind co-workers in both of my jobs! Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of the job before you commit to it and make sure that you are prioritizing your physical and mental health! As Kim says . . . you are a student first.
Thanks for convincing me that working during masters is possible.