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Balancing your studies with work and life

Balancing your studies with work and life


By Sean Power And SANDRA D'Amico

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Don’t let study rule your life – make time for sports, family and friends, and the things you enjoy.

With Cambodia's labour market growing more sophisticated every year, many young professionals are enhancing their skills through further part-time study while working fulltime.

The potential rewards are substantial, including improved salary and promotion prospects. As many part-time study veterans will attest, however, combining work and study is never easy. Sometimes, our best intentions don't translate into successful study or personal outcomes.

Before considering which course to study, ask the most important question: Is part-time study right for me in the first place?

Think about your long-term career objectives and whether part-time study is the best way of advancing them.

If you are looking to develop your technical skills, is this best achieved through formal study, on-the-job experience or simply reading a few books? Are you studying because you think an additional degree will give you a higher salary? Is this really true? What skills do you really need to achieve your financial goals?

A recent study by Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) suggests that employers really need more skills, not more advanced degrees.

Other things you should think about include whether part-time study is right for you at this stage in your life. If you have just started a high-pressured job or have a baby on the way, then now might not be the best time to add part-time study into the mix.

If you are ready to commit to part-time study and you know what you want to study, then the next consideration is where to study.

Do you want to attend classes at a local university? Or is "distance learning" with an overseas institution more appropriate? Both options have their pros and cons.

Attending classes at a local university enables you to interact more easily with lecturers and fellow students. On the other hand, having a qualification from an overseas university might carry more weight with employers.

Ask family, friends and work colleagues about different universities' reputations, including their reputation in the specific field of study you are interested in.

Making these decisions might seem difficult, but the really hard part still lies ahead - which is actually doing the work.

Don't underestimate how challenging it will be to successfully combine your work, study and home commitments. The following are five tips for making part-time study a rewarding and successful experience.

1. Seek the support of your manager

Make sure your manager understands what you are studying, what you hope to achieve and how it will benefit the company.

If you will need time off for assignments or exams, or need to leave work early on certain days of the week, seek your manager's permission at the outset and give plenty of advance notice.

Make your manager the biggest supporter of your studies, not your biggest obstacle.

2. Don't overload yourself

While everyone wants to finish their part-time study as quickly as possible, avoid the temptation to overload yourself in your first year of study.

Don't try to squeeze in more subjects than is recommended for part-time students.

Your first year will be the hardest, as you establish your study routines and make adjustments to your work and home life.

3. Manage your time effectively

Effective time management is the key to successful part-time study. Establish a routine and stick to it.

Decide what time of day you study most effectively - before work, during your lunch break, in the evenings or on weekends. Set weekly and monthly study timetables, have a "to do" list and prioritise tasks.

4. Don't get discouraged

Remember that studying part-time isn't easy for anyone. Don't get discouraged if you miss a few classes, fall behind in your reading or even fail an assignment. Try to stay positive and turn things around before it gets too late. If necessary, speak to your manager about taking one or two days off to get back on track.

5. Stay motivated

With competing pressures from work, family and friends, it can be hard to stay motivated and focused on your studies. It can help to set specific study goals, both short-term and long-term. Perhaps you could reward yourself for every milestone you reach, such as buying some new shoes when you finish a big assignment.

More importantly, remember to keep living life. Keep doing the things in life you really enjoy, whether it is spending time with friends or playing tennis.

If you give up everything you enjoy because of study, you will come to resent the study and find excuses to give it up.

Sean Power is a consultant to HRINC, one of Cambodia's

leading HR services firms, and Sandra D'Amico is the

managing director. A job isn't just a job; it consumes

more than a third of your day - make sure you enjoy

what you do and challenge yourself to be creative and

do things differently.

Contact [email protected] for more information.