Sunday, March 20, 2011


More than once, while driving back from the gym with my friend Matt at roughly 8:30 in the morning, we've see my friend and classmate Erika looking sharp and walking toward downtown. Turns out she has a part-time job, helping a teachers institute with its social media strategy.

When asked, I tend to say my fellow students don't have part-time jobs. (I am indeed asked this, believe it or not ...) When I give that answer, though, I'm thinking of "part-time jobs" in an old-fashioned undergrad sense, like waiting tables or doing office work. Nobody here has that kind of job just to make cash, to my knowledge. But in this grad-school world, a part-time job can mean lots of things -- consulting for an old employer, doing paid research at the school, etc. And my roommate works full-time at the Yale Repertory Theatre, while getting two master's degrees simultaneously. (Don't ask me how she does it without the use of cocaine.) 

If I expand my thinking beyond what I think of as a "part-time job," I actually have had five of them this year. My gigs as a second-year advisor, admisisons interviewer and three-time teaching assistant, which I consider "activites," are actually jobs. By year's end, Yale will have paid me about $4,500-$5,000 for doing these things. It's not much, but it helps when one subsists on student loans.

Yale doesn't have a part-time MBA program per se, but there is an executive MBA (EMBA) program for people who have full-time jobs in the healthcare field. Classes meet every other Friday and Saturday. That's the same type of schedule at some part-time programs I was exploring before school, like the program that the University of Texas does in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, where I was living. This was worth considering, because I liked my job. But a few friends who had done part-time MBA programs warned me that I should try to do it full-time if I could, especially if I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, because full-time students tend to have more access to networking and job opportunities. That makes sense not only because there are only so many hours in the day, but also because students in part-time programs are often sponsored by their companies.

My last employer, a newspaper, would have had no reason to sponsor me in an MBA program, as they would just be helping me jump ship. I do, however, have a former colleague who entered a part-time program at TCU when I was leaving for Connecticut. He had good reasons for staying in town and going part-time, though -- he's married, is now a father, and has a really good management job. I have another friend who did the part-time program at SMU, which is one of the highest-ranked part-time programs in the country. It doesn't seem like the school was terribly supportive in his job search, which is too bad but not entirely unexpected given what I just mentioned about companies commonly sponsoring students in the part-time program. But my friend is smart and tenacious, and on his own he's landed a job he likes, with upward mobility.

Overall, if asked, my general advice would be to do a full-time program if you can afford it, and to avoid a part-time job while in that program unless it's relevant and not too intrusive. There'll be plenty of time for real jobs after school. I think this is the time to seize opportunities that will be gone after commencement.

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