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Balancing Work and School

Interviews with Linfield Students who Travel for Work

Juggling the demands of work and school can be challenging. Balancing assignments due along with work responsibility – and the variety of other commitments in your life – is a true exercise in time management. Throw in travel for work and you’ve certainly upped the ante even more.

We interviewed three Linfield DCE students, two of whom graduated this spring, who have been balancing work and school while traveling on behalf of their company.  Kerry Nordstrom-Bradley, Marc Springer, and David Neal each have some tips on how best to balance work and school responsibility.

Kerry Nordstrom-BradleyKerry Nordstrom-Bradley, Human Resource Certificate and Social and Behavioral Science Degree Graduate

How regularly do you have to travel for work?

I am in outside sales so I travel every day. I also went on vacations while in school and was able to post discussions while out of town.

For what company/organization do you work, and what is your role there?

I work for a food/candy manufacturer and my title is Outside Sales Manager.

How did you manage studying and completing assignments for school while working and traveling?

I had a laptop that I took with me, but if I could not receive a strong enough connection then I would use the hotel’s computer in their business office.  While on a cruise I used the Internet Café to make the discussion posts that were necessary that week.

What tips or advice do you have for someone who travels for work who is considering going to school online?

Linfield’s program is one of the best and is very computer friendly.  Plus the teachers are always available to help you or can get you back on track if you are not used to online courses.  There are many resources available to use and even when working full time I didn’t feel pressured to get my assignments done as long as I used a calendar to remind myself of deadlines.

Mark Springer, RN to BSN Degree Student

How regularly do you have to travel for work?

The amount of time I travel varies, which can make planning difficult.  I have had some weeks where I am gone just one day, but other weeks I am gone all five days.  I usually travel around Oregon, but there are times where I travel across the country.

For what company/organization do you work, and what is your role there?

I work for a medical device company as a clinical representative.  My role includes teaching physicians and nurses how to safely and effectively use our products.  The teaching methods include one-on-one, group in-servicing, and formal events with many attendees.  These events occur both during the day and into the late evenings.  In addition to my teaching role, I am also a consultant to the surgeons and nurses who use our products.  This means I am on-call day and night to both physicians and nurses who may request my expertise on particularly complex cases.  In addition to the above roles and duties I also work very closely with hospital discharge planners to ensure a smooth continuum of care when the patient leaves the hospital with our device.

How did you manage studying and completing assignments for school while working and traveling?

This can be a difficult task for students who are traveling for work while attending school.  I try really hard to complete the majority of my work by 9pm so the rest of the evening can be dedicated to schoolwork.  I also to try pre-plan what tasks need completion and what I need to take with me to complete it.  I usually have a secondary plan if my travel plans are extended, which includes bringing a few extra items to work on.  Studying on airplanes or in airports seems to work ok, but I find the most productive time of the day is working in the evening at the hotel.  That being said, working in hotel can be a challenge because many lack the necessary office equipment that we take for granted at home.  I have managed to work around this in many cases by taking advantage of the office printing and supply stores that host all those conveniences.  One positive note about working in a hotel is the lack of distraction.  It’s much easier to become distracted at home, but truthfully, a pile of homework and a boring hotel can produce excellent results!

What tips or advice do you have for someone who travels for work who is considering going to school online?

I would suggest you take a look at your current work status and ask yourself if you are really serious about putting in extra effort after your work tasks are complete.  Are you prepared to take on extra duties if your job requires it?  If you work on a team and a teammate quits, are you ready to take on those tasks too?  You have to set your priorities and limits before you start so when something unexpected happens you are well prepared.  You also need to consult with your family.  Traveling for work can be difficult on the family and it can be especially difficult to come home from a long work trip only to jump straight into schoolwork.  The rewards of going to school can be  wonderful as well.  My employer recognizes the demands of my position and has been very pleased to see that despite this I have still managed to take advantage of their education assistance program.  This has been viewed with such high regard that I was recently awarded a promotion.

David NealDavid Neal: Social & Behavioral Sciences Degree Graduate, Focus on History and Economics

How regularly do you have to travel for work?

I travel 1-3 weeks per month depending on the season. Most of my domestic travel is to Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Washington State. I also travel to Norway 2-3 times per year.

For what company/organization do you work, and what is your role there?

I am currently the US Sales Manager for Hatteland Display AS, a company based in Nedre Vats, Norway. We produce a range of monitor and computer products for the marine industry in all segments including workboats, yachts, Coast Guard and Navy. I am responsible for managing our US dealer network, rep groups and direct OEM accounts. This involves a host of tasks including product sales forecasting, marketing efforts, and managing exhibits at trade shows throughout the year.

How did you manage studying and completing assignments for school while working and traveling?

My job is demanding and requires a lot of travel. I also have a family with two young children, so there are lots of distractions. Thankfully, I was able to take most of my classes online, which gave me the flexibility to do the work when I could find time. Many of my assignments and papers were done early in the morning or late at night- sometimes at home and sometimes in a hotel room. I found the online Blackboard system to be very user friendly and easy to use. But it still takes discipline and hard work to get the assignments done on time!

What tips or advice do you have for someone who travels for work who is considering going to school online?

First of all, I would recommend that the student communicate openly with the professor so that he/she understands your schedule. Although this doesn’t give you an excuse to submit late assignments, it does provide some flexibility. I found all the professors at Linfield to be open and understanding of Continuing Education students’ unique needs and challenges. Also, I would recommend that the student learn the value of starting each class early and avoiding procrastination. It takes discipline to finish a college degree- and all DCE students will hone this skill during their time at Linfield. It’s not easy, but it’s very possible with some hard work. And it feels GREAT when you get it done!