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Working while in Grad School


AKCarlton
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Depends on the nature of the job, your pay, & time commitment.

 

Last semester was my first, & I was a for-credit (unfunded) TA, had a full course load, & had a part-time food service job about 12-15 hours weekly. My supervisors were disorganized & inattentive to employee concerns, employees were paid minimum wage & we didn't have a tip jar, & our schedules changed every. Single. Week. I was constantly stressed & frustrated, & had virtually no social life because I was totally burnt out every weekend from job-work & school-work together. It was very emotionally & mentally unhealthy, so I quit at the end of the semester. It simply wasn't worth the spotty minimum wage & stress. So, for me, it wasn't an issue of time or time management; rather, it was an issue of.. well, just about everything else.

 

That said, I'm sure that a job with better supervisors, a regular schedule, & better pay would be feasible, as long as you're a hard work in all senses & a good time manager. :) However, I would go into it making it clear that you're a student first, & that there would be a chance that you'd have to change your schedule or leave in the future in order to balance & prioritize academic things.

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The answer here is: it depends. Too many individual factors impact this including discipline, program, family, work flexibility, *talent*, etc. 

 

I'm finishing up my MA this semester and I've worked full-time throughout. I have 2 kids (both during my MA program), we sold one house and built another, and I researched and wrote a thesis during all of that, on top of classes. I'm finishing in a typical 4 semesters (2 years) for 30 hours.

 

So the answer is yes, but not necessarily universally.

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My first semester of school I found a job where I basically kept an eye on a teenage girl who had gotten into a bit of trouble (nothing major, drinking when unsupervised sort of stuff). We did homework together for like 4 hours a couple days a week since her parents didnt trust her to be alone. I also regularly nanny. I try to get jobs in the evenings so that I watch the kids for an hour or two then basically just get paid to do homework.

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My first semester of school I found a job where I basically kept an eye on a teenage girl who had gotten into a bit of trouble (nothing major, drinking when unsupervised sort of stuff). We did homework together for like 4 hours a couple days a week since her parents didnt trust her to be alone. I also regularly nanny. I try to get jobs in the evenings so that I watch the kids for an hour or two then basically just get paid to do homework.

 

That sounds like an awesome job :D

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I worked in a theater box office during my master's program. I mostly worked during the day, so ticket sales were sporadic. In an average 4.5 hour shift, I'd have about 3-3.5 hours to do whatever I wanted, like surf the web, read for class, catch up on emails, etc. I often used the time to re-read my notes since I was at the writing stage and plan out what I'd write once I got home or I'd edit what I'd already written. At any rate, it was a pretty ideal job except that we had to dress on the border of business casual and business formal every day, so I would look overdressed if I went to something in my department immediately before or after work.

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This is great information...thank you. My current full-time position is practically library-like...help a customer when they come in when it's your turn (rotate between us sales people)...it's quiet..I sit at my own desk, have been refreshing my inbox every 10 minutes...can read a book and surf this site...so if I am able to transfer to another store close to my school, I think I could make it work.

Edited by AKCarlton
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My first semester of school I found a job where I basically kept an eye on a teenage girl who had gotten into a bit of trouble (nothing major, drinking when unsupervised sort of stuff). We did homework together for like 4 hours a couple days a week since her parents didnt trust her to be alone. I also regularly nanny. I try to get jobs in the evenings so that I watch the kids for an hour or two then basically just get paid to do homework.

 

Ooh, I'd like to add a +1 for nannying! I think living in-residence as a nanny would be hard, but many of my classmates have had really great experiences, both at my program & others, with babysitting regularly. If it's something you're interested &/or experienced in, I would recommend looking into it, based on secondhand info. I've also heard great things about university library jobs in general!

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I worked a very high-stress full time job during my first masters. I graduated on time, in four semesters, with a 3.83 GPA. It's possible, but it's definitely not easy. I didn't get out much  ;)

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From personal experience, if you don't have to have a job, don't have a job. What constitutes the criteria for "have to" depends entirely on individual circumstances. I know someone who "had to" have a part time job in high school because he "had to" have more access to the Gap than his allowance permitted. Back then, I judged harshly. These days? Who am I to pass judgment on anyone's necessities, beyond the universal ones. The only things I need are food, water, and shelter. Everything else is "want". I'm tangenting unnecessarily.

Anyway. I recommend against a job simply because they take away hours that can be otherwise engaged in scholarship. Employers (aside from GTA employers) think that everything else in your life is secondary to the job. For those of us who TA, our departments usually tell us that our own education comes first, and our teaching responsibilities second. TAs have a habit of sacrificing their time for students. Employers don't expect people to focus on their work outside of work hours, but when there's a work-school conflict? Or a choice between sleeping and fulfilling an obligation? Employers don't think you can call in sick when you've been up doing school work for two days. They expect you to put the school stuff aside and get rest.

It comes down to this, in my opinion, there are only 24 hours in a day. The more of those hours you can free up to do your scholarship, the greater the quality of scholarship. I consider a solid 12 hour chunk of that 24 hours to be un-freeable, in general. 8 hours of sleep, commute time, personal care and other chores, personal time (it's important to give one's self time to do leisure, even if that's just watching re-runs on Netflix). That means the other 12 hours are free for school and work. Time is a commodity that has to be factored into any cost-benefit analysis.

The feasibility of working (not assistanceships, to be clear) comes right down to a cost-benefit analysis and nothing else. What will it cost you to work? What benefits will you have from it? Are those benefits worth the cost? And one question, because it's school, if your cost-benefit analysis makes it clear that work would be beneficial, but you discover, after trying to work a job and do school, that you actually can't do it, what would happen if you couldn't have that income?

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I will just point out though, that if your program is funded (specifically if you receive a stipend) you may not be allowed to hold another job. Or sometimes schools put restrictions on the number of hours you can work an outside job. It varies from school to school and obviously depends on your funding situation, but you should definitely make sure you know if there are any restrictions before you commit to a job.

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If there are no restrictions to working outside your program and you believe that you can balance both responsibilities (with school being first priority), you may want to consider finding employment that will allow you to make connections or develop knowledge for your specific field of study.

 

Of course with my background, I am immediately thinking of museums, which deal with archeology :-). However, the state where you reside, or other non-profits (or archeological societies) may be academically advantageous employers, as well. 

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One of my friends in a master's program just got a job at a nearby research lab that stems off of a different school. She's getting paid to do work that will be able to contribute to her final master's project anyway (yes, she's had this approved by both the employer and the school she attends). So maybe check out nearby paid research opportunities! The odds are one in a million, I'm sure. And my friend is in the Boston area, so there are quite a few research facilities around. But you never know! ;)

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I unfortunately have to work while I go for my MA. I am curious to see how this plays out. I am a high school teacher in an urban school district so I have stressors that many other teachers don't.

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I've worked outside positions since my fourth year of graduate school (third, if you count non-required TAships for extra money).  In years 4 and 5 I worked as a residential hall director for the undergraduate residence halls - it was a 20 hour a week job and very intense, but also extremely enjoyable and I learned a lot.  I also made a couple of really close friends that I still value.  I did this while TAing (one semester I TAed two sections, although I wouldn't recommend that).  This year (year 6), I work 10 hours a week in the library helping students with statistical software and teaching workshops on using the very same software.  It pays well and the workload is light enough that coupled with a fellowship, I have plenty of time to write my dissertation and live my personal/social life.

 

I personally work not because I absolutely need the money to live, but because I was miserable living like a broke graduate student (as opposed to a less-broke student...I'm not exactly rolling in the dough) and I like to enjoy my time as a graduate student.  It's kind of akin to danieleWrites's high school friend needing access to the Gap, except substitute Sephora for the Gap.  Well, actually you can put both the Gap and Sephora in that box, tbh.  On the other hand, I've done pretty well for myself - I have several publications and a couple of fellowships on my CV, so I don't think the working has damaged me too much.  I like to stay busy.

 

My philosophy - your scholarship comes first, of course, and if you don't have to work, don't.  You'll be happier.  But "have to" is a different interpretation for everyone - sure you may make enough to survive, technically, but will you be psychologically stable and ready to handle the work if you can't afford to grab a movie every now and then or have dinner with friends?

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Personally, I will have to look for an outside job in addition to a graduate assistantship. Those school stipends don't cut it for real world bills. my own or my families that I contribute to also ::shrugs:: it is what it is...so I have to look for TWO JOBS lol

 

I am looking for paid research opportunities around campus. However, anybody got any tips on how to get a job that one can do remotely - such as a test scoring job? Or a similar type job? I also live in a place where Winter is around for 8 months out of the year and will be without a car. 

 

I could probably take out loans...but that would be more bills to look forward to after I graduate. 

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I unfortunately have to work while I go for my MA. I am curious to see how this plays out. I am a high school teacher in an urban school district so I have stressors that many other teachers don't.

I did this and it was super stressful and terrible most of the time. But my professors were particularly awful and most of our classes devolved into old dude story time. So hopefully your experiences will be better!

 

But to anyone looking for part time work while in grad school, I'd recommend tutoring/teaching for SAT/ACT. You generally set your own schedule and decide how much you work. Generally, summer is the busiest time which means you can take on many more hours if you don't get a summer TA job. If you go through a company, you make less but the work is more reliable. If you can find students to work with on your own, even better. Most companies require you to have 90+ percentile scores, so if you meet the cut off, I recommend at least looking into it. 

Edited by perpetuavix
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I was considering a job while going for my MA, but upon poking around further discovered that with my funding I am unable to work more than 10 hours a week in another job, so I'll have to get something that is only one or two shifts a week (not necessarily complaining). I am super glad I discovered this before making plans otherwise

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The answer here is: it depends. Too many individual factors impact this including discipline, program, family, work flexibility, *talent*, etc. 

 

I'm finishing up my MA this semester and I've worked full-time throughout. I have 2 kids (both during my MA program), we sold one house and built another, and I researched and wrote a thesis during all of that, on top of classes. I'm finishing in a typical 4 semesters (2 years) for 30 hours.

 

So the answer is yes, but not necessarily universally.

 

Do you have time to even breathe?!!?!? :o  Kudos to you for being to pull that off! 

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Anyone got any tips for an international graduate requiring a job? It so seems that I might have to  do something to afford my masters without great damage to my finances... 

 

Of course as an F1 student I am assuming I cant look outside campus right? Also are there restrictions on the number of hours inside campus??

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