How to manage full time work whilst studying for a master’s!

Bob Dowler - MSc SCL graduateBob Dowler, graduate of the University of Bristol MSc Strategy, Change & Leadership programme discusses how he managed to work full time and create space for study.

How to manage full time work whilst studying for a master’s?

It’s a good question to ask and honestly, I was concerned about that before I started the course, but it didn’t materialise into the problem I thought it could have been. Now don’t get me wrong, the study was demanding at times, academically challenging, time consuming, difficult, and often mentally exhausting.

You need to be prepared to fully commit to this course. As a rule of thumb, I put aside a whole day at the weekend and maybe two or three, 1-3hr slots during the week. Some weeks I used less, some more, but you must put a study plan together and set yourself targets through the week otherwise time can quickly run away from you.

That said, time made itself available, it just happened, so I’ve had to reflect on that (something you’ll find yourself doing a lot of if you take on this challenge) and realised that the answer is simpler than you may think. If you follow a simple rule:

Make your study relevant.

Take a challenge from work, something you need to deal with anyway, and apply the academic study to that challenge. When your study focuses on real time challenges, when the study is relevant, you learn more about the subject as you deal with challenges which improves your ability to deal with them.

Those challenges suddenly become much easier to resolve, you become more effective, which creates time. You also find that your life priorities change, the study becomes addictive as your improving capability drives a yearning to learn more. I noticed that things I did but were not really important to me just didn’t get done anymore. Suddenly time is not the constraint you thought it would be.

Did this MSc programme change my life? 

I’ve worked with many people going through some high-powered training programs telling me that getting the certificate will change their life, get them a pay rise or a promotion. If that is your view then you are probably in for a shock, the certificate, a qualification really doesn’t do that. You will fail to meet those expectations if you do not apply the lessons learned to reality.

With this study, you can apply theory to practice from day one and that gets noticed. Your peers, colleagues, and management notice how you become adept at dealing with uncertainty, leading change, you become more capable of identifying and adapting strategic plans to emerging conditions. You don’t need to tell anybody you got a certificate, a qualification, you simply become better, actions really do speak louder than words.

The added bonus here, you don’t need to ask for an opportunity to demonstrate your improving capabilities, those opportunities come your way and without you having to advertise the fact that you are studying for an MSc, and that leads to life changing improvements.

Bob Dowler, MSc Strategy, Change and Leadership graduate.

Find out more about MSc Strategy, Change and Leadership.