Having it all: Part 1

This was originally quite the novel so I’ve split it into two posts.

I tried to find a good image for this article but couldn’t. So here’s the generic work/life balance metaphor. You get the idea.

The big question these days with communication and marketing students seems to be, “can we have it all?”

We need to study, work to afford rent etc, maintain relationships – friends, family and often significant others, squeeze in work experience if we want any hope of finding a job upon graduation, keep up the social media use (serious problem. Pinterest is a chore for me, but it’s part of the comms thing) and somehow maintain sanity.

And my honest belief? Yes. We can have it all.

Just not necessarily at the same time. At some point this year I have been behind in any one of those (often two. Sanity took a hit first semester), but here I am – somewhere between halfway and two-thirds through my degree with a good GPA, one internship on my resume and now a part-time job as a marketing assistant and very, very happy (sane? Questionable).

I won’t pretend it was easy though. A lot of people complain that only rich kids can afford internships – their parents pay for everything, so it doesn’t matter if they take time off their jobs to work for free, right?

Don’t be such a defeatist.

My parents didn’t and don’t pay my way.  It’s not for the rich, it’s for those who are willing to work for it. And that’s a good thing. If you’re willing to make sacrifices (they don’t have to be big ones!) you’ll be so much better positioned than the others who sat back and thought it was too hard. And you’ll have a better resume and work ethic than the people who actually did live on daddy’s credit card.

So, short of having a boyfriend in the army who disappears into the bush, Melbourne, or Afghanistan at length (sometimes I think that’s the only way I get things done) here are some ways to have it all

Hello Sunday morning
Honestly, this is the biggest one. I don’t care what the American college movies made you believe. You don’t have to get trashed every weekend. I’m not even saying don’t drink every week, alcohol is brilliant stuff and a social life is important. But if you don’t get up til midday, and still aren’t fully functioning by 3 or 4pm, you’ve lost a lot of time that could have been spent ticking one of those other boxes, and probably at least half a week’s rent money too. Try to limit the blowouts.

Work in hospitality
I do understand that this isn’t for everyone. I have my own love-hate relationship with it myself. But it’s one of the most flexible industries and is a great way to be able to fit EVERYTHING in. When I was still waitressing, there were days when I would intern from nine to five, work in the restaurant from 5:30 to 10, and then go out for a few after-work drinks with my co-workers. Work experience, money (oh, how I miss tips) and a social life in one day, only possible because I worked in hospo.
Working in the industry is often a sacrifice alone though – there’s more time for uni and interning and the pay is good, sure, but it’s tiring, you lose your weekends, and quite frankly, sometimes your customers just suck.

GPA isn’t everything
Don’t tell your mother you heard this from me, because I’m fully aware that this won’t work for everyone. But if you’re doing well with study without putting your heart and soul into it, you know what? That’s ok. It all comes down to what the difference is worth. Last semester, I got less than a 6  (distinction) on a final course grade for the first time. I could have pulled a few all-nighters or dropped my internship to get a better result, but ultimately I’d rather have the experience on my resume than a slightly better grade on my academic transcript. If you can get a 7 with a little bit more effort, power to you. But I know I’m a pretty straight-6 student and I’d rather put the time and energy that may not even get me a 7 into something that I can show.

to be continued

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  1. Especially agree with the GPA issue. NO ONE looks at a person’s marks, the degree is supposed to be a guarantee that you’re at least competent. Once they’ve confirmed that, they look at your actual experience, not your grades.

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