Rachel Markle is a junior college student at Loyola University Chicago. She works part-time as a paraprofessional tutor. She speaks both French and Spanish. For hobbies, she loves singing, attending church, working out, and listening to classical music.
One of the things that has always differentiated me from other students in my class is my schedule. Of course we all have different class schedules, and many students practice sports and do extracurricular activities or volunteer work in their free time. However, for the past two years I have balanced numerous simultaneous part-time jobs at once while taking classes full-time – imagine the equivalent number of hours per week as two full-time jobs. It has been anything but easy, but remarkably what I found after getting used to the pace was that the work itself was not so difficult, nor was the number of hours I was spending per week working rather than sleeping or doing something for myself. The biggest struggle was finding an adequate work-school-life balance.
Let’s face it – we all have needs. Some people’s needs are bigger than others’. As for myself, I was faced with the challenge of dealing with some minor debts, buying schoolbooks, and paying my basic living expenses. I decided that the option that made the most sense for me was to finish school while working as much as I could, and never to stop pursuing work opportunities until I could be a bit more financially secure.
In order to make extra money during classes, I did all kinds of part-time work. I filed work documents in an office; I served coffee in a small café; I wrote blog articles, I tutored many academic subjects for students of all ages; I completed three internships; I directed internships online; I made national and international phone calls to Europe to sell tutoring courses; and I managed a schedule for a supervising Recruiting Manager. Sometimes there was a clear parallel between the jobs that I did in one day and other times it seemed there was nothing in common at all between what I did from waking up in the morning to the jobs I would do just before falling asleep. However, the most important thing for me was to keep moving and never get caught up in any stress or second-guessing myself that would have ultimately just ended in a trap.
During this time my resume went under innumerous transformations, as I padded it with internships that were quickly replaced by other paid positions or work qualifications. I learned that a resume is only as important as your ability to explain it to others and pass the interview process. I learned that I do very well in interviews and that it is good to treat an interviewer with the same respect as a teacher, someone who wants to learn about you and hopefully wants you to learn about them.
The biggest lesson I learned from this experience was that a work-life balance does not exist. It is the pace that you set for yourself and what matters to you that determines what you do and the passion with which you accomplish your task at hand. Although I often found myself tired and physically exhausted, I have absolutely no regrets about the experience. At the same time, that extra motivation caused my grades at school to get better and my concentration was more focused. I really would not suggest work and school to everyone; however if it is something that you find you must do, you should embrace it wholeheartedly and pursue it without ever once taking a look back.