Hello, hello! today I am back with a chatty post about my experience balancing part-time study and full- time work. After I graduated from my Geography degree in 2012, I have spent the last few years working in Marketing and decided in 2015 to go back and study for a Chartered Institute of Marketing Certificate in Professional Marketing. This was normally a year long course but in the end it took me two years (more about that later) however I completed it and now I have the certificate which I am very proud of.
The first module, I remember sitting down and actually feeling very nervous about studying because I hadn’t studied for a while and I really understood why mature students get so nervous! I soon got into the swing of things however. One thing you learn early on is that you need to keep on top of things and that the homework you cannot really miss, as if you do you are missing out on the extra learning which is only going to bite you in the bum later on. I had an exam for the first module so the pressure was off in terms of coursework. I was very lucky that I was allowed two days off per module for paid study leave at my work. Three weeks before I also dedicated one day of my weekend for exam prep.
The coursework modules were so much harder. The CIM is different to normal uni in that your lecturer can only look at your work once and not really give you much feedback. This is quite difficult with the CIM because at times I found the questions quite vague (my biggest bugbear of the entire course!) and half the time was spent deciphering these stupid questions but once you got you get your head around them it is ok. You have to start the coursework quite early because if you don’t you will easily fall behind. My lecturer was quite helpful in the fact that he had set out a timetable as a indicator of when different parts of the coursework should be completed, so I just followed that.
The final course work was Digital Marketing and that module practically broke me. It consists of six tasks. One of which is a podcast, Powerpoint, two blogs a briefing paper and a report. This module was so hard, in terms of sheer workload. I took about four days off and was working almost every Sunday from the start of the module to make sure I kept ahead. Again this module had a timetable to keep by, I did feel that we spent too long on the podcast (I think it took us three weeks) and not enough time on the other tasks.
My experience balancing both is that it certainly is doable especially if you don’t have any caring commitments (I don’t know how parents do it!). You just have to stay on top and try and dedicate a day to getting all the revision and course work done. I would also try and see if you can use a project for work as also part of your coursework as you are then killing two birds with one stone. Certainly booking annual leave helped as it allowed me to have a weekend and helped me not to burn out. If you do feel burned out or you end up with extra commitments – don’t be afraid to take some time out. I decided to take a year out between my second and final module and I am so glad I did. Yes it was annoying that I had to wait a whole year but the module felt so much more manageable and I could fully focus on it. I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude from 2016 to 2017.
When things get tough try to remember why you decided to take the qualification in the first place for me it was to give me a better chance for the future and also for me to take the experience back into my current workplace and implement – which I already have.