Working while studying can feel like a tightrope walk that constantly places you on the verge of plummeting from a dizzy height. It doesn’t have to be so hard, here’s how you balance the two
word maki molapo / image matt ragland unsplash
Adulting comes with many needs that almost feel like they can’t all fit into the limited time you have — especially when you want to broaden your knowledge and expand within your profession or explore other fields. Being a working professional with a 9-5, or a freelancer who’s juggling multiple jobs, can be very demanding. There are responsibilities to fulfill, not only as far as your job is concerned but, in your personal life as well. But it can be done. Human Resources Generalist, Sibongile Magwagwa sheds some light on the correct steps to take towards that graduation stage:
TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYER
Remember, your time will be divided between your work duties and studies, so it’s only right that you speak to your employer. This may help a great deal in terms of the workload that’s assigned to you and being given extra time off to focus on your studies.
Magwagwa says companies may also place employees in positions aligned to their studies to assist them with gaining experience. The big question would be when to inform your employer about your studies, Magwagwa says, “ideally, the employee should inform the employer even before pursuing their studies, unless the employee joins the company while already busy with studies. The obligation to inform the employer is not only linked to financial assistance but could be used as motivation for the employer to approve study leave, especially when there are other pressing operational requirements.”
Time is of the essence. You have work deadlines, assignments and tests – depending on your study option, so it’s important to manage your time accordingly and realistically. You need to plan and have a clear schedule for deadlines and it’s advisable to create categories for work, assignments, meetings and free time.
Discipline is a crucial aspect of managing your time because it comes with making certain sacrifices. This is to also avoid burning out as a result of you wanting to juggle work, studies and a fully functional social life.
It’s important for you to first understand what options you have as far as your studying is concerned. Based on the course that you want to enrol for, will you need to attend classes, take online courses or will it be distance learning?
If it’s the latter, what medium of communication do the lecturers prefer and can you arrange a schedule with them that accommodates your responsibilities? What kind of study materials are you going to need and how do you access them? These all play an important part in your time management because you need to plan ahead.
MAKE USE OF TECH
thank goodness for technology because you don’t need to take up mental space remembering things, you can just set reminders and alarms. There are also apps that help you study effectively. Some also backup information to avoid losing documents.
You can also be a part of a study group via WhatsApp or Facebook. These groups help you keep track of extra learning material, inform you of any additions, changes or important updates about your coursework.
SUPPORT STRUCTURE AND WELL-BEING
Studying and working is not easy and you’re going to need all the help you can get. Friends and family can help alleviate certain stresses and help with other responsibilities.
Apart from that, you also need some time off to relax. Your well-being is just as important. A healthy you, produces great results. Your mental health constantly needs to be checked and you also have to ask for help whenever you need it.
Support is not only limited to family and friends, this can be extended to study groups and your employer. Study groups are helpful in that there are people who share a similar struggle and can help motivate you. Magwagwa says your employer can also support you “through scholarships, bursaries or even learnerships and/or by granting fully or partially paid study leave.”
Not all working environments are as supportive of employees pursuing their studies. As such, you need to know what your rights are as an employee. Magwagwa explains what the company is responsible for, negotiables and more:
- Every employee has the right to learning and development. The Skills Development Act emphasises the obligation of companies to offering training to their employees.
- However, study leave is not prescribed in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, therefore, study leave is not an entitlement, companies offer it as an additional benefit.
- The employee would need to negotiate approval to embark on studies, particularly when they require time away from work for their studies.
- If the company policy makes provision for study leave, the employee has the right to be granted this leave, provided it does not interfere with operational requirements.
In the case the company’s policies do not make provision for personal development of the employee, what steps can the they take?
- The employee might need to use their annual leave for activities related to their studies.
- Every company has internal processes in place, to address issues that employees feel aggrieved about. The employee should follow these procedures.
- If support is not consistently offered to all employees, the employee may declare a dispute with the CCMA for unfair labour practice. Magwagwa also advices that you, “discuss your study aspirations with your manager. If the studies are not aligned to your current job, companies are usually sceptical about providing support as they will not benefit. If this is the case, motivate why you would like to study what you wish to study and how it will develop you. They may not provide financial support but may approve your time away from work when required. Remember also that companies are more willing to support your studies if they are happy with your work performance.”