Finding a work-life balance has never been easy for anyone. And for students doing jobs alongside their education, it is very easy to lose track of either academics or job tasks, or at worse, both. It requires consistent determination, proper planning, and time management from the students' side in order to ensure development in both studies and the workplace. Adding to this, educational institutions, as well as organisations hiring students, can play an important role in assisting the students to find the right harmony.
In Bangladesh, students usually get involved in tutoring and other informal work while they are studying in universities. They have to find their balance with academics and other tasks on their own. However, the rise in part-time jobs in different organisations of the country brings a professional context to part-time jobs, which asks for a guideline for students in balancing their work and academic tasks.
For instance, the student policies of the universities in economically progressive countries have clear instructions and counselling sessions regarding part-time jobs. Furthermore, employers also have flexible rules for the students they hire. On the other hand, due to this being a relatively new scenario, the Bangladeshi education system or the institutions here does not have proper guidance available for the students regarding part-time jobs. This often causes difficulties for the students to navigate their way through the schedules of their part-time jobs and their academic tasks.
Keeping all of this aside, how do students find the right balance? To get the essence of how students feel when they start working and how they tackle the situation, Fateen Tahseen Alam's opinions add up. This first-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism at Dhaka University (DU) is currently doing an internship as an analyst at Bangladesh Angels Network, the largest angel investment network in Bangladesh. He did not have a proper plan about work-life balance because of the ambiguity that comes with remotely everything, but he had an idea of how to split his time between studies and work.
"Before starting to work, I shared my class schedule with my workplace and made sure I could attend all my classes and my workplace is also very considerate about it."
Mohtasim Bin Habib, a second-year BBA student at IBA DU is involved in two part-time jobs. He is an academic instructor at 10 Minute School and market research executive at Grumpy Coffee Marketing. He has a story that assures us that losing track is not disastrous as long as people can work their way back on the track.
Three months after getting into his university, Mohtasim felt lost. A year after that, he started working and felt the same again. Portraying his journey, he said, "It took me months to figure things out and find the right balance. Fortunately, my current workplace is very accommodating and takes into account my academic pressure. I study, I work and I enjoy my life too in such a manner that gives me mental peace and helps my career stay on track."
People who are just starting out and people way up in their careers-- both are still figuring out how to reach that sweet spot of work-life balance. As Fateen said, "Keeping up with both studies and work is equally challenging. Your studies can easily take a toll if you get behind too much. Of course, the balance gets more manageable over time as you get used to it." Can our educational institutions make the situation any better? Fateen has reasons to believe that. "Definitely, yes. Especially, educational institutions should have a system that enables students to work to gain experience alongside their studies."
Kowshik Ahmed Fahim, chief operating officer at Lead Gravity, thinks that the students who have the learning enthusiasm in taking up a job alongside their academics usually learn to manage their schedules in course of time. "When a student has that enthusiasm, the work tasks or academic lessons will not be a burden for them. They will figure out how much they can work or study in a given time." Adding to that, Kowshik suggested keeping a to-do list or rough routine of the day to sort all the tasks according to importance.
Mukit Anis, an independent marketing consultant at Grumpy Coffee Marketing Services and an adjunct faculty at BRAC University, shared his experience that often many students doing part-time jobs forget to put the required efforts into their studies. They get so overwhelmed with the idea of working and earning that their focus shifts easily. To facilitate this situation, he promotes a policy at Grumpy Coffee Marketing Services that puts emphasis on the education of the students who work there.
"At the end of the semester, every student working in our company needs to submit their class routines so that we can make sure we do not give more work before exams and there is also a CGPA bar they have to maintain to work here. And this is my responsibility as a manager to ensure their academic well-being."
As much as the responsibility of balancing goes on the students, the organisations also have a responsibility to facilitate the students with enough room for good results and organisations hiring students should be concerned enough to uphold this. Overall, if the students can track their own progress in both work and academics, the balance will come along with it and educational institutions and organisations can ensure their part by making it easier for the students doing part-time jobs.
The writer is a second-year BBA student at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka.