• Balancing School, Work, Internships, and Interviews

    by Rukmini Waranashiwar

    A female college student sits in a saucer-type red chair with a laptop in her lap. There is a large window behind her, a low round table in front of her and the chair next to her is empty.

    When first starting college, I always looked forward to having a relaxing senior year; however, that did not turn out to be the case. What I hoped to be an easy semester turned into me taking 12 credit hours, managing a Pearson micro-internship, working as a Pearson Campus Ambassador (PCA), and interviewing for full-time jobs. My life became incredibly busy. Although it seems like a lot, my past experiences taught me how to manage my time wisely.

    Increasing Responsibility

    This was not the first time I had to handle a chaotic schedule. During the Spring semester of my junior year, I took 18 credit hours, worked as a PCA, and completed an internship with a search fund. During that time, the best thing I did to manage school and work was to prepare for exams at least a week in advance. Since I would have multiple exams a week, internship deadlines, and PCA projects all coinciding, I couldn’t spend all day studying for an exam anymore. Learning how to space out my studying was extremely integral to my being able to manage other responsibilities on top of school.

    Helpful Habits

    The habits I built during that time made me confident that I could handle all that senior year had to throw at me. I’d learned how to space out studying so I could balance my academics and maintain my GPA, while still being able to keep up with other commitments. Another habit that helped me was to put all due dates onto a Google or Outlook calendar. I have a hard time keeping up with a written planner, however I am always on my laptop. Having those notifications pop up for things like internship meetings, job meetings, and even classes is super helpful. I keep up with all my deadlines and make to do lists for day-to-day tasks. Being organized is genuinely the most important thing to manage several projects at once.

    And something interesting I learned during these heavy semesters is that I work more efficiently when I have more to do. Having many deadlines helps me get things done faster because I know I don’t have much time to procrastinate. When I was in high school and my only focus was on school, I wasn’t as efficient with my time because I didn’t need to be.

    Although taking on more responsibility may seem daunting, it has proven to be rewarding. Both my PCA position and Pearson internship have provided me with so much experience to talk about during my job interviews.

    Take Time for Yourself

    Now in my final semester, I’m finding that carrying out a job search can feel like a full-time job on its own: preparing for interviews, updating my resume, and applying to jobs in between classes and during lunch. The best thing I’ve done for myself this semester is build time in to take breaks, like hanging out with friends, exercising, and treating myself to some ice cream. Taking care of your mental health is important to maintain your best self. I’m extremely thankful for all of opportunities I have had throughout my college career and hope to apply what I’ve learned during these busy semesters post-college.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

    read more
  • How to survive the commuter student life

    by Rukmini Waranashiwar

    blog image alt text

    Unlike many college students, I decided to commute to campus my freshman and sophomore years. Why? Mainly to save money, and because I didn’t want to room with people I didn’t know. I live fairly close to my school, the University of Texas at Dallas, but the 35-40 minute one-way commute can add up. I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about how to thrive as a commuting student. If you are considering living off campus, here are some things to keep in mind:

    Smart Scheduling

    Consider rush hours when planning your schedule.

    Try not to schedule classes that begin at 8 am. The traffic during rush hour in the morning is insane no matter where you are because everyone is trying to get to work. If that’s the only time you can get for a class you need, learn the attendance policy and have a conversation with your professor early in the semester. Similarly, try not to leave school between 4:45-5:30 PM due to the evening rush hour. It will save you gas and time.

    But don’t start too late in the day.

    While you want to avoid morning rush hour, try to start your day on campus around 10 am. Parking spots will fill quickly throughout the day and after a morning commute, you do not want to spend any more time in the car than necessary hunting for a place to park.

    Try to take most of your classes on the same days.

    Registering for classes that are on the same two or three days per week will save gas and time. One drawback to this is the chance that big exams get scheduled on the same day. But having regular days off from class gives you the option to work or intern the rest of the week.

    Join clubs but be aware of their meeting times.

    I was not aware of how late in the evening some club meetings would be when I joined. This is especially difficult for commuters because after class, you just want to go home and relax. Since I don’t live close enough to campus to drive home and back, I tend to dread staying on campus till my club meeting is over. If you do have time to fill between classes and club meetings, find a favorite study spot on campus so you can be productive while you’re waiting.

    Mobile Mindset

    Make good use of your time in the car.

    Driving for a long stretch or sitting in traffic can be mentally tiring. Play loud music to destress, listen to a podcast, or call a friend – using hands-free options, of course! See if any of your textbooks are available in audio-format so you can listen to your required reading. There have been several instances where I have been extremely tired and almost fallen asleep. College can be tiring; take steps to keep alert during your commute.

    You can never predict the weather!

    Always have an umbrella in your car, and maybe an extra coat or jacket. In colder climates, be sure you have an ice scraper in case you come out from class to a windshield covered in snow or ice.

    Keep a professional outfit in your car.

    There may be a career fair, interview, or networking opportunity that you forgot about.  Commuter students don’t have the option to run back to their dorm to change. Having professional clothes in your car will mean you’re prepared for anything.

    Cultivate Connections

    My final advice is to make friends! Since you are not on campus all the time, this can be difficult. I don’t cross paths with many people on a daily basis because I usually head home after class unless I have a club meeting. Cultivating relationships with your classmates helps you increase your social interactions, plus you’ll have someone to contact for class-related questions.

    I wish I’d known these things before making the decision to live off campus. But all of these ideas have helped me be successful. I hope they help you conquer the commuter life!

    read more