How to manage going to school while working in hospitality
According recent research from Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, Michelle Melton, and Eric W. Price of Georgetown University, nearly 14 million Americans are working while attending classes. That’s about 70-80% of all college students and nearly 10% of the overall labor force; and the share of working students has been on the rise since the 1970's.
The effort can certainly help to defray the costs of tuition and housing, but there's additional value beyond that. Your hospitality experience during school can give you a leg up on the competition when it's time to land a job after graduation. Many employers are looking for candidates who have already developed some skills and have on-the-job training while attending classes.
8 Tips for making it Work
1. Work in your field: Working in hospitality while taking classes means you're getting hands-on training and experience that directly applies to your career. That takes the "theory" of what you're learning in the classroom and brings it to life at work, making it more meaningful to you as a student. You can even write a paper or do research on a real-life challenge and then turn it into your boss as a solution that solves a problem at work. What a great way to be noticed as a valuable employee!
2. Get Organized: Time management is everything. Use a calendar, reminders on your phone, a planner or whatever works best for you to keep track of your work shifts as well as your assignments. Then prioritize your lists and make a plan for every day. Whatever you do, stick to the plan. It’ll make it possible for you to remain sane without letting your work or academic responsibilities suffer.
3. Build a Support System: Make sure the people around you, both personally and professionally, are behind you. You need a support system to make it through the challenging times. Be sure your manager and your family are on board with your goals to attend school while working.
4. Keep your Manager in the Loop: Make sure your manager knows you are attending school and you have an increased load of school work from time to time. If possible, schedule shorter shifts or time off during the high stress times around mid-terms and finals so neither your school work nor your job suffers. When your manager is aware of your situation, you may even find you're up for a promotion or new opportunity when you graduate.
5. Stay Focused: Do what it takes to stay motivated and focused. Post photos of what you'll be doing when you graduate, put up quotes or even write yourself a letter to read when you're energy is low and you're feeling drained. Remind yourself of why you're doing this.
6. Take some online classes: If possible, enroll in online courses that allow you to work at your own pace at home or on your lunch break. That flexibility can help eliminate some of the stress of managing school and work schedules.
7. Work weekends: If you can put in most your hours on the weekends, you'll be able to devote more time during the week to school and feel less stressed. That may actually work in your favor since most hospitality jobs are 24/7, and your colleagues might be happy to have some weekends off.
8. Have some fun: You need to schedule some down time. Treating yourself to a break from everyday pressures will boost your overall performance at work and school and help you feel positive about your goals for the future.
But, as always, remember to find the balance. Working while you're in school can give you a chance to graduate with little or no debt while gaining real-life skills you can use in your future career. It also means you’ll be making contacts in your field that you can use later when you’re searching for a job. Just be sure to balance your schedule and make time for some fun so you can continue to learn and grow without becoming exhausted and burnt out. It's manageable, and it's worth it!