By Jayme Lozano
Projects and exams are part of the college experience for all students, but some are also working outside of class to make ends meet.
James Brush is a senior accounting major at Texas Tech University who is also a full-time cake decorator. He wakes up at 3 a.m. and works until his first class at 10 a.m. On the two weekdays he does not have class, Brush goes to work at 4 a.m. instead.
Brush’s hectic schedule has taught him how to manage his time carefully so he can balance work, school, homework and sleep.
“I can’t do homework in the morning because I’m at work,” Brush said. “I can’t do it in the afternoon because I have class, so I have to do it in the evening before I have to go to bed at some point so I can get some amount of sleep before having to come in the next day. Usually, I get between four to six hours a night.”
Brush is taking four classes this semester, after his adviser recommended he take a smaller course load so he can participate in groups in the Rawls College of Business Administration.
While Brush wishes he did not have to work, he said there are two kinds of students who do not work.
“There are those who don’t work who make the most of their time,” Brush said. “They’re in organizations or do volunteer work. Then, there’s the other students who I feel are spoiled, and their parents pay for everything so they can just go to school and go to parties.”
The challenge of balancing all of his responsibilities has taken a toll on his grades and his anticipated graduation date, Brush said.
“It affects my grades more than I would like it to, but I try not to let it as much as I can help it,” Brush said. “Most people can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years, but I will have to take an additional year in order to graduate with one.”
While it might be easier to just focus on school, Jay Killough, managing director of the Texas Tech University Career Center, said it is better for students to work.
“Employers, as they read the resume of a student who is applying for a full-time job after school, will look at that experience,” Killough said. “It doesn’t matter what that experience is. They want to know the student has had some kind of job, where they gained responsibility, time management, and people skills.”
The Career Center offers several resources for students that help teach them about time management and practice for interviews, along with posting job opportunities online. Killough said all of these resources are important for students because it helps them balance good grades and earn job experience.
“It’s important to focus on school and make good grades because some jobs require a certain GPA,” Killough said. “But there are a majority of employers that I know who want to see work experience. There’s a balancing act between having a job and maintaining good grades. It’s tough, but it’s doable.”
Katie Sommermeyer, a senior retail management major, has succeded in finding that balance because it is important for her field of study.
“It’s really important to have retail store experience, even if you are wanting to go the corporate route, because it gives you a better insight of the industry,” Sommermeyer said. “I didn’t want to graduate and have no retail experience when searching for jobs.”
While it was hard at first because of project-intensive classes, Sommermeyer said her workload has become easier to balance over time. She will be graduating Summa Cum Laude in May.
“The biggest thing is to always put school first,” Sommermeyer said. “Just put your all into everything and do your best with what you have to work with.”