I think we all know that as a PhD candidate, of course I think the answer to the question is yes! There’s a lot more to my views on this and how they were formed though. I’ve made some mistakes in balancing work and study over the years, but here are some of the reasons why I think study and business support each other, and some tips and tricks to make it work.
- If you work in another field, learning theory will improve your practice and vice versa.
I was fortunate enough to have my Masters paid for by me then employer, the Civil Service. As a front line worker in JobcentrePlus, it was not until I started examining policy formation and strategy that I began to comprehend:
- how my tiny cog fitted in to the machine which is public service,
- how that related to the political party in power at the time,
- how the Civil Service keeps its political neutral role while advising its party political masters, and so much more.
Nobody is saying that the only study you should do is work related, but it can help with your relationship with the office.
2. If you work in education, continuing to study, and being open about it, helps your students trust you.
As a study skills tutor, I hold some teaching qualifications, of course, but I find that talking about my own challenges and how I have overcome them builds a sense of trust with my students. Got a deadline? So do I? How can we both meet them? Don’t understand the brief? This is how I analyse mine – are these techniques useful to you? Got a bogie module? Have I ever told you about my relationship with Economics and Governance? (No, really, somebody ask me – I’ll happily tell you how I slew that dragon). Being a student yourself creates a sense of rapport with your students that nothing else can forge, and you will both reap the rewards.
- If you are studying something relevant to your job, make sure your colleagues know about it.
I learned this one the hard way. I initially kept my Masters studies to myself and was accused by several colleagues of being both lazy and privileged. How dare I, as a single white woman under 40 be working part time? What gave me the right to laze around the rest of the time? They had made a wrong assumption that I was a lady what lunched, who played at work to remove the boredom. They had missed the part that when I wasn’t in the office I was studying, in lectures, or travelling the four hours each way to get to Uni. One stand up row later, a now educated colleague became the first to volunteer to take part in the research for my dissertation. My point is, you may inspire respect, a new reputation for yourself or even somebody else to go and learn a new skill.
- (A tip) Organisation is key, as is a touch of ruthlessness.
In the 21st Century, time is a precious commodity. Taking on study is only going to make it more precious. This is a key example of working smarter, not harder. You will need to get your family on board.
If you are already studying and your family are not supportive, now is the time to sit down and have a full and frank discussion with them. What are the benefits to them of you getting this qualification? What practical skills can your other half/young ones/house mates learn or take over that will help free up your time? Batch cooking, putting their own washing away, dusting and hoovering, these are all gender neutral tasks. It is important that you carve out time for your study then guard it with your life! If work is a more conducive environment for study than home, go in early, or stay late (clear this with your employer first). Make sure that you don’t suffer from study guilt – you do matter and the more you prioritise your study and empowerment, the more positive role model you become for those around you.
In conclusion, then, if you’re thinking about studying while you work, get on and do it, but make sure you have your loved ones on board before you start. If you’re already studying and have got a bit stuck in the mire, I understand, why not give me a ring and see if I can help?