I may have chatted with Andy Koenig, student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, on a Sunday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t working. I caught him in between a morning of homework and an evening of going into his office at Georgetown University President’s Office to make sure he was prepared for the week ahead.
This is a common weekend in the life of a part-time business school student. Andy juggles a hectic workweek, evening classes, homework, and trying to maintain some sort of social life. While he has questioned his sanity more than once with this balancing act, he believes it’s worth it as his daily work experience enriches his education.
“I think a major pro of a part-time education has been being able to apply what I’ve learned in school immediately to my job and taking things I’ve done at work and learning some of the academic frameworks behind them,” explains Andy. “Being able to use your job as an example is great. I also think it’s great because my classmates are able to bring in all of their work experiences too and it really enriches the classroom experience. People can say ‘oh at work today I encountered this situation and look how it applies in the classroom’ or ‘oh I learned this and turned around and applied it at work and here’s how it went’. You can really learn as you go in a way I think full time students might miss out on because they’re taking time off from work.”
“I think a major pro of a part-time education has been being able to apply what I’ve learned in school immediately to my job and taking things I’ve done at work and learning some of the academic frameworks behind them.”
This doesn’t mean the decision to tackle both work and school at the same time should be taken lightly. Andy’s education has been three long years of summer courses, intensive weekend classes, evening classes, and sleepless nights studying, leading into exhausting mornings at work.
How does he manage to do it all?
“I think the key takeaway for how you manage both is really just balance,” says Andy. “The community of people in your classes helps maintain that balance because we’re all doing it together. Everybody goes through rough patches where they don’t think they can do it and the rest of the community is there to help you keep going. The key is understanding the demands on your time and really learning how to balance those as best you can. It’s a matter of planning ahead when you get a course syllabus at the beginning of the semester. Note when you have several assignments due in one week so you know when you might focus a little less on work or take a day off. Similarly when there’s some downtime in school, focus even more at the tasks at work. It’s really a balance of knowing when you can turn it on hard at work, when you can turn it on hard at school, and relying on the people around you to help you get by.”
At the end of the day, it’s that strong community in business school that makes the long days at work and school worth it.
“The community of people you meet and the skills you learn during your MBA translate into a launchpad for the rest of your career,” says Andy.