How to combine studies with your work (if you have to)?


How to combine studies and work? That is the very question I’ve been wondering through my studies as I have been forced to combine these two during my study period at Sibelius Academy. It has really been problematic at times, but I wanted to write about it because it might help someone battling with the same problems – or if not help, at least give some peer support.

When starting my studies, I moved to live alone and my living expenses increased while my income diminished. Living in Helsinki was (and still is) very expensive and rents are high. In addition, I was a freelancer and did not have a permanent job at the time so taking a leave of absence from work and focus on studies only was not in the cards for me.

I also did not have that many years behind me in the working life so that I would be able to get adult education allowance. Taking a student loan has never been an option for me, because I did not want to have debt after finishing my studies. Of course, if I would have done exchange studies in some other country, then the situation would have been entirely different.

All in all, those were the three main reasons why I chose the best option for me would be to continue working part-time while studying. Of course, I would not recommend this option to anyone else, if it is financially possible to find another way.

One of my classmates used to say that school for her is holiday from work and vice versa. This is a motto that I adapted as well because it actually helped. It helped me to enjoy and focus on what I was currently doing no matter if it was work or school. I also could worry about work when attending a class or worry about school when working. This made many things simpler.

One key thing is to plan ahead and stick to the schedules that were made. This was certainly the hardest part for me as things in life and sometimes even motivation always tend to change. But as the course schedule for the first two years is done already for the whole class, I only needed to follow it in order to get enough credits. And have good calendar where all deadlines were clearly marked.

Also, working at the same time can be used as an advantage when studying. I used different projects that I worked with to get credits as that was possible for us arts management students. We can include up to 12 credits under Project-courses and naturally I took the opportunity. Also, I agreed that my working experience credits would come from a project that I worked with at the time. That was also up to 12 credits. I strongly recommend this way for everyone who might need to work during their studies.

To conclude, it was not always easy to work and study at the same time, but I believe I made the most of it. And now, nearly graduated, I can safely say that this paid off.