Let's talk about… part-time studying & time management

In our "5 questions with…" section, we introduce you to our PIABO colleagues and share their expertise in communication and PR strategies. Today: Katja Werner, Communications Consultant and about to finish her Master’s degree in Digital Communications. Katja tells us how it is to work full time while studying at the same time. Find out how she manages to get everything done and how PIABO supports her with that:


1. Katja, you work full time at PIABO, while also studying digital communications. Can you tell us a bit about your everyday life? How does PIABO support you with your studies?

Yes, that's right. On particularly desperate days, I do ask myself how I’m doing this, or even why I'm doing this to myself. But for me, studying full time was no longer an option, I wanted to gain professional experience while completing my Master's degree. Basically, I work normally and take care of my studies in the evenings and at weekends. In addition, I had one week of lectures per course module  throughout the entire duration of my degree PIABO made it possible for me to attend them.

It's not easy to be productive 24/7 that's why time off is immensely important to me: Meeting up with friends, having a movie marathon, reading a book or taking a relaxing bath. It doesn't matter how you balance things out the main thing is to make sure that your thoughts don't constantly revolve around all the to-dos that still need to be done. The fact that I am stress-resistant and know where my limits are helps immensely. And in that regard PIABO provides great support!

Besides supporting me with my tuition fees, PIABO also makes sure that I don't overextend myself too much. I was also able to take time off on relatively short notice to concentrate on writing my Master's thesis. This support from both the management and the entire team is not something that should be taken for granted. And I am truly very grateful for it. But one thing is for certain: This sort of arrangement is not for everyone!


2. What is the focus of your studies and how do you apply what you learned in university to your job as a consultant at PIABO?

The topics of my Master's degree program are quite varied from technologies and tools for digital communication to cross-media campaigns and storytelling to internal communication and crisis communication, there really is something from all angles. And it was exactly this diversity of topics that appealed to me! Most of the topics I covered in theory at university, I was able to put into practice directly in my daily work at PIABO, which for me is exactly the win-win situation you get with a part-time Master's degree.


3. Are there also things that you learn in your studies that are not really relevant or do not apply in practice? 

I was lucky that all of my lecturers have industry experience and understand exactly that dusty theories are sometimes outdated or simply not applicable in everyday work. All content was supported with examples from real life and there were always working practice units during which we could directly apply what we had learned.


4. How important is time management for you? Do you have any tips and tricks for us?

Without time management, NOTHING works in a part-time Master's program  especially if you have a similar arrangement as I do! But I also have to admit that sometimes I don't quite get it right either. I am also a pro at procrastination! I do a lot of things at the last minute, it's just my nature. And that's okay too. The scary thing? I work best under pressure by far ...

My most important advice: Always keep your eye on the goal. What has helped me immensely is a big calendar that I have stuck on my wall. I wrote down all my university deadlines and marked them with colors. That way I always had an eye on how long I had left for certain tasks.

Maybe this tip will also help: Involve your environment! Because as nice as it is to procrastinate with friends, those friends are also great at giving you a kick in the right direction  when you need it! 


5. Last question: Would you recommend studying while working full time? 

As I said, this model is not suitable for every type of person. But for me it was definitely the right decision! I've grown incredibly through it and realized that I can manage a lot more than I would have thought possible. However, you have to realize that the whole thing demands a lot from you: It's a lot of work, little sleep and even less free time (or sometimes a little more free time and even less sleep...). Besides, you don't necessarily have to go to such extremes as I did and have a full-time job while studying full time at the same time.

My core message is: If your employer makes it possible to work only part-time, then gratefully accept that offer! I have also thought about that model a few times, but challenges like the one I’m facing right now excite me far too much!

Let‘s drive your success story.