During the 2021 Fall semester, my first semester enrolled in graduate school, I had a part-time job working for Aldi. This was not the first time I had needed to balance a major commitment with my schoolwork–I was extremely involved throughout high school and college and took on a plethora of leadership roles and responsibilities, including internships, e-board positions, clubs, and more. This being said, my involvement with my many extracurriculars was only attainable with strict deadlines and time management strategies. It was the only way to keep myself on track, and manage a multitude of commitments.
Currently, I am enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration graduate program and serve as a Graduate Assistant within the Fleishman Center and the First Year Representative for Student Affairs Graduate Association (SAGA), all on top of being a full-time student. Aldi in particular was impactful, as it was the first part-time job I added to my already busy schedule after starting my graduate program. Though I gained many valuable skills throughout this employment opportunity, most notably my time management skills improved significantly, juggling Aldi with my classes, assignments, and extracurriculars was extremely challenging. In the past, many of my extracurricular experiences occurred after class, with minimal overlap in my scheduling. However, this job was different as the store was open at all hours. Given the multitude of responsibilities I took on during this time of transition, I began utilizing multiple avenues for organization and time management. For example, I used my physical planner to track my homework and due dates through a color-coded system. I began researching the uses of Google Calendar, and started using that technology to set reminders and visually examine my blocks of time and commitments. Most importantly, I learned the importance of protecting my “white spaces,” the spaces on my Google Calendar where I was not assigned to be at work, at my graduate assistantship, or in class. If anything, enhancing my time management actually taught me the importance of self-care simultaneously. Because of my busy schedule, I began to truly appreciate my “white spaces,” and I became more productive given the limited time I had to complete tasks and assignments. My part time job at Aldi allowed me to better navigate my days and plan my weeks in advance. With knowing my due dates ahead of time, I was able to more effectively budget my time weekly to ensure I was completing assignments to the best of my ability, but still showing up for my shifts in a timely manner.