After surviving two other programs, I’ve learned that grad school is most useful to those who work a bit beforehand. I know many students rush from undergrad to grad school, but working provides hands on knowledge that you just can’t get in undergrad. Strangely, this is not a connection that everyone makes.
I know that grad school and working a full-time job can get sticky, but it is also a great opportunity to apply what you're learning to what you’re doing. With that being said, here are a few tips to make grad school and work make the most sense!
#1: Find relevance in the day-to-day. There is relevance in every class that you take and most (never all, because…life) of your readings. You need to find how a common theme in your class plays out in your actual job. I find that as I read, my comments tend to relate back to work. Be it a phenomena that occurs consistently or be it a topic that is relevant to an issue I am having at work, I ALWAYS find the relevance. One thing that I’ve learned is that everything repeats and most ideas ARE NOT original. This means that something you’re reading or doing can probably be applied to something that you are doing now.
#2: Choose YOUR organization for assignments. There is ALWAYS an assignment that gives you the option to choose one of the studies from your readings, a random place, or your own organization to complete the assignment—ALWAYS choose your organization. First, this helps with your application of knowledge and content! Second, it helps you gain a better understanding of your organization and helps you view different aspects of it—both of which are always extremely useful to you.
#3: Connect everything to your goals. This is another thing that people don’t do that baffles me a bit. Grad school and work are not two different entities. I don’t believe in purposeless actions or activities—and neither should you! Everything you do should be based on a goal you’ve set—I’m sure I’ve said this in a blog before! As you are moving through each class, you have to think about how that class can help you reach your personal and professional goals. As you do that, you’ll notice that things will begin to take on more meaning.
Remember, grad school, work, life, they should all be related. These are not separate entities that help you accomplish separate things, but instead are all pieces that work in tandem to help you accomplish what your overall goal is.
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