PulseThe balancing act: How some students manage coursework, off-campus jobs

These full-time students take on more than just school
Cate CoeNovember 13, 2019513 min
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Illustration by Ren Rader

Going to university is a full-time job. However, some students at Trinity work on and off campus at jobs or internships while pursuing their studies. How each student manages the balance varies, but a universal key between all of them is time management.

Senior Christian Ledezma is an accounting major and has worked at WashTub, a car washing service, for the past five years. He said learning how to manage his time allows him the opportunity to work.

“Time management is a key thing, just never falling behind and always staying ahead,” Ledezma said. “I have a calendar of things that I do, and I always try to stay a couple of days ahead so that way I can work.”

Ledezma works in quality control, making sure that operations during car washes run smoothly and that customers are satisfied with the service. Ledezma is originally from San Antonio and decided to continue working at WashTub while being a student at Trinity.

“Part of why I work is to help pay some bills,” Ledezma said. “So, I pay my phone bill, my insurance and my car payment, and it was just kind of an agreement that I had with my parents. Then also just to have money for myself to go out and spend money the way that I want to.”

During Ledezma’s first year, he was working 40 hours a week and taking 15 credit hours. He said that he was overworking, and it took a toll on his grades and social life. Currently, Ledezma works 25 hours a week in addition to his classes and has found his schedule now to be more manageable. Ledezma believes that working while being a student has positively influenced his life.

“It’s actually a really good resume builder,” Ledezma said. “When I interview for internships, they really appreciate the fact that I was working and going to school at the same time and being able to manage both workloads. Also just being able to focus on things that I need to do and not procrastinate. I think it’s really helped my attention span because before I would be on my phone a lot and kind of just slacked off.”

Senior Jenna Flexner also believes that working as a student has positively influenced her, and she has learned valuable lessons in time management and organization.

“I think working has really helped my time management skills,” Flexner said. “They weren’t so great freshman year, and they’ve gotten progressively better.”

Flexner is an accounting major and currently works as an intern at Mello{be}, a company that sells meditation pillows that improve posture and encourage mindfulness. Flexner started working there this summer as part of the Department of Entrepreneurship’s Student + Startups program, and she holds a variety of roles at the startup, including writing the company newsletter that is sent every other week, running their social media accounts, writing blog posts and doing data entry for accounting inventory. In addition to her internship, Flexner is editor-in-chief of the Mirage and has been working there since her first year at Trinity.

“Holding two jobs these last two years has made me very good at time management and scheduling off blocks of time,” Flexner said.

However, balancing work and school can be stressful when it gets to be too much. Flexner has learned that prioritization is key in getting through those periods of time.

“When it gets overwhelming, I think it’s mostly about prioritization, so just sitting down, I’ll use this app that has like a 20-minute timer and then a five-minute break, and that keeps me really focused,” Flexner said.

Senior Jennifer Ochoa is a Spanish and accounting double major working both on and off campus. At Trinity, she is a federal work-study student with the Mexico, Americas and Spain (MAS) Program. Off campus, Ochoa works at Onsi Group, a consulting firm. Ochoa started working for them this summer as an intern as part of Students + Startups, but now she works as a part-time employee with their data team. Ochoa spends around 25 hours a week working in addition to attending her classes.

“I have a lot of to-do lists and I think to-do lists help me the most, but just using my Google calendar to make sure I get the work done,” Ochoa said.

Although working and going to school sometimes feels like a juggling act, she is ultimately proud of what she has learned so far.

“You kind of have to learn how to balance stress and also different deadlines and just kind of become adaptable because some things that you anticipate will take you less time end up taking you a lot longer,” Ochoa said. “And so that’s when you kind of have to fit in some time for your own mental health because if you keep working and doing school you kind of become a robot.”

All three students, although very busy, are happy with their decision to work and go to school. All reported having better time management skills as a result.

“It’s just all about planning it out,” Ochoa said.

Cate Coe

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