I’d be lying if I said I had the beautiful balance downpat. I’m pushing 22, diving headfirst into the final year of my undergrad, and celebrating a year with the company of my dreams. Where I find the time to travel is beyond me. Sometimes, the scale skews so hard one way that I throw my plans completely out of the window. Welp, that’s not gonna happen this summer. Maybe next year. But life likes to throw us curve balls and the next I know, I’m embarking on a journey towards my master’s degree. How could I ever balance work and travel?
I like to sit back and think about the simpler times.
The summer of 2018, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman at Drexel University. I had just received the opportunity to do (paid!!) research on Shakespeare for the entirety of the only summer I would ever have off in my five years at Drexel. I bit the bullet and stayed on in my ten-by-twelve jail cell, ferociously reading King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, occasionally having meetings and conducting phone interviews.
The amount of flexibility I had was incredible. This was the summer I met my boyfriend, so needless to say, we took advantage of that flexibility and headed off on a roadtrip to Indianapolis. The only thing I had to do was shoot off an email to my research director that I wouldn’t be available for that week’s meeting.
Ah, the simple life.
Then, I was hit in the head with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Drexel is in the habit of connecting its students with incredible companies for six-month internships. We call them co-ops here since we work full-time for those months instead of going to class (hence the you’ll only get one summer off for the rest of your life).
I had interviewed at four major companies and was sadly turned down by all of them. Whomp, whomp. Luckily, Drexel has a matching system for when a student turns down an offer, so a month later, I was staring at a screen telling me that I needed to go get a drug screening to begin working for a Fortune 500 company.
A year later, I’m the luckiest college student.
I have never been more grateful for such an incredible opportunity to come knocking on my door. A chance matching in a system paired me with one of the most charismatic and devoted companies I could have ever dreamed of working for. Little ten-year-old me would be squealing if she ever found out.
I have traveled seven times in the year I’ve been working there. How exactly did I do that without getting the boot? My company allows flexibility with a 9/80 schedule where I get every other Friday off, so I was able to take advantage of those off-Fridays as well as holidays to where I only had to take off a day or two at most.
For my Paris trip, I was actually caught off-guard with a part-time job offer. I had already planned that trip far before that offer, so I had to take off quite a bit more days. Thankfully, it lined up with Christmas and New Year’s, so again, I had holidays and floating holidays to take advantage of.
Balancing work, school and travel is a different story.
While I was working part-time September 2019 through March 2020, I was also balancing a full 20-credit school schedule. At first, it was crazy. I had night classes that I rushed to after work, I had work after a morning class, etc. It was most definitely a steep learning curve.
Somewhere in there, I lost a manager, so I found myself having to amplify my own responsibilities and look for mentors where I had lost one. Luckily, my company is chock-full of mentors, so I had no problem locating one.
And then the blow of the crushing loss of a close friendship and my subsequent moving out threw the balance way off. I was commuting an hour and a half from the Jersey Shore to my job for well over a month. I basically didn’t see my boyfriend or my college friends during that time. It was incredibly stressful, but definitely something that I look back on fondly because it gave me a glimpse into what my life after college could look like.
That perfect balance still continues to elude me, but I think I’ll eventually get it. It’ll just take some remixing and remastering of my life track. For now, I’ll continue on the path I’m on.
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