I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how difficult the work-life balance of a young professional can be. When we are in college, we have a much more flexible schedule, which means we have more opportunities to make time to do whatever it is we want to do. Then comes graduation and our first ‘real’ job immediately following (or so we hope).
While I understand that not all professions are as time-constraining as others, the majority of the fields I’ve worked in require more than the average 40 hours per week, and quite often, when you’re in an entry-level position, you’re ‘expected’ to work more than that.
The fact is, as young professionals, now is the time do dedicate a huge chunk of your time to work. Most of us don’t have children, spouses, or even boyfriends/girlfriends. This is the point in our lives when we can put in the extra time to get ahead in our careers so that we can (hopefully) have more time later in life when we get to the point where we want to have a family. This doesn’t mean you should dedicate 100 percent of your time to your job, but sucking it up and putting in that extra time will pay off. Some ways I manage to maintain a ‘good’ balance (though it’s different for everyone) are as follows:
- Prioritize. Remember that spending time with friends and family is not only important for your mental health, but can be inspirational, too.
- Be realistic. Don’t put too many things on your plate at once. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, say something! Don’t let things pile up until you can’t handle them anymore. This is more disastrous than if you had said something in the beginning.
- Schedule social media posts. If you’re someone (like me) who blogs and maintains Twitter/Facebook, etc. scheduling posts is a good idea, because it lifts the burden off your shoulders for a while.
- Be extremely organized. If you make lists of the things you want/need to get done, it will be much easier to stay on task. Keep a calendar too, with work and outside of work events or tasks, that way you can manage both, AND won’t overcommit yourself.
- Know how to recharge. Listen to yourself. Are you someone who can work their ass off for several months then take a vacation? Or are you someone who needs an hour or so a night to regroup? Find out what works for you so you don’ get burnt out.
Other professionals – please share your thoughts and tips!
One of my favorite parts of my job this summer has been assisting in planning different events for the campaign I’m working on. In the past month, largely in part to a larger fundraising event we had, I have learned a lot about event planning. While my office is very drama/major stress-free, things can get a little crazy which is why I’ve learned that organization is key:
- Create a list of everything you’ll need. This way, when event day rolls around, you’re left feeling cool, calm and collected, and if last-minute things pop-up (like say, the host needs flowers for the table) you’ll have time to take care of these things without stressing that other tasks aren’t done.
- Wear something comfortable. If you’re like me, and you always wear heels to work, keep a pair nice flats in your bag in case you end up running around a lot or are just on your feet all day.
- Collect business cards. The larger the event, the more people you’re going to meet. I’m (self-proclaimed) to be terrible with names (something I’m trying to work on) so exchanging business cards and writing a note about what the two of you discussed on the back of said card is a great way to remember someone and reconnect later if need be.
- Pay attention. Yes, you made it to event time, but you’re also a host, which means you’re working, so keep your eyes and ears open at all times in case you’re needed. However…
- …you should still try to have fun!
- Be willing to ask for help. If a guest/attendee asks you a question you’re not 100 percent sure of the answer to: ASK someone! It’s better to say, “I’m not sure let me find out for you.” than to incorrectly answer someone’s question.
- Expect the unexpected. It could be a devastating thunder-storm that causes a tree to fall down in front of the event space and the power to go out (like at my last event). You never know. Stay calm and keep your head , this way you can tackle bumps in the road as they come, and your event will not be ruined.
As a new year and new quarter begin, new endeavors inevitably begin as well. This quarter we first year students have begun our required practicum experience. I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to make mine an extension of my GA position. This works out well for me because not only did I very much enjoy the work I did fall quarter, but I really like the idea of putting in more weekly hours in an office setting.
I am one of few MPA students who didn’t take any time between my bachelors and masters degrees, so I lack job experience that a lot of my classmates have. While I have held several internships, I think it’s important to have as much real job experience as possible so I’ll feel prepared for the 9-5 “real world” of my future. During winter quarter I’ll be working in the GA office 24 hours per week (yes, I realize this is much less than the average full-time job) which will give me time to not only get more work done in each day but also work on multiple projects throughout the quarter.
One of the projects I’m most excited about starting is researching and developing a social media plan for the Voinovich School. Since much of my undergrad and internship experience revolves around PR, specifically social media, I have been asked to help work on a plan for the school. I have just begun researching what similar schools are doing, and am finding some cool information – it really pays to be passionate about what you’ll (hopefully) be doing for the rest of your life.
I have officially moved from one Hill to another. Since leaving Washington, D.C. and Capitol Hill, I have moved back to Charleston for the six weeks until school starts and have started interning at Yeager Airport (on “Airport Hill”).
I’m working in the marketing/public relations department doing quite a bit of writing and social media work. I absolutely love it so far!
As many of you may know, my dad is a pilot and I’ve had a passion for aviation my entire life (I went on my first flight at the ripe young age of six weeks).
So far it’s a great experience.
Be sure to ‘like’ Yeager on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FlyCRW and follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/YeagerAirport