Finding Balance as a Working Doctoral Student

A blog post by PhD in Leadership Studies student ambassador Brittany Williams.

Working while going to school was not new to me. As a first-generation undergraduate student, I worked at least two jobs while going to school full-time. In my Master’s program, I also held two jobs while working. However, all of my past work experiences while in school were part-time, and I was nervous to begin the PhD in Leadership Studies program in SOLES while maintaining my full-time job at the USD International Center.

Photo of Brittany

At first, working full-time while going back to school full-time was an adjustment. I was constantly either working or studying, even taking my limited free time on the weekends to read. This method of overworking (at my full-time job and in the PhD program) was not sustainable, so I reevaluated how I was scheduling my time. I organized my time to do my readings in sections instead of trying to sit down and read for hours at a time. I also scheduled time for me to exercise (even if it was a few days a week) and reserved time to do something I enjoy, like catching up with friends. Although my calendar looks overbooked, scheduling time for myself to preserve my mental, physical, and emotional health made a huge difference in how I felt overall.

I am also very appreciative of my cohort. Although I’m beginning this program remotely due to COVID-19, my PhD cohort has created a Linkedin and WhatsApp texting group for us to not only keep in touch about school but also about our personal lives. What we are missing with in-person classes is the ability to socialize and engage in small talk, so we’ve all made a conscious effort to get to know one another online. This community has taught me that I am not alone in my struggles – both personal or academic – and that we are all in this together; and for that, I am grateful.

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