Managing Study & Work Commitments


| 49 Posts


5 Aug, 2014 11:08

I'm currently studying my Post Grad in HR Management through distance learning. I am also working full time in a HR Coordinator role which is very demanding and challenging. In my role I am getting exposure to a lot of employee relations aspects such as investigations and disciplinary meetings because we are so short staffed. The employee relations aspects is all new to me so I'm trying to learn this whilst also studying for the qualification. I'm starting to feel a bit stressed out and I'm making small mistakes because I feel like I'm taking on so much. 

 Has anyone else done the Post Grad whilst working full time? I was considering asking to work my hours over a 4 day week so that I could dedicate one full day a week to my studies. I try to do it in the evenings but I don't get home till late and I'm too shattered to even look at it. 

Sorry for the rant just feel alone at the moment :(

  • Hannah

    | 11 Posts

    Chartered Member

    5 Aug, 2014 11:55

    Hi Pamela,

    I went through the same thing whilst doing my Post Grad, and I felt very stretched. Like you I was working full time, and sometimes felt there just weren't enough hours in the day! Luckily there were a group of us in the same HR team going through the programme (we attended college one afternoon / evening a week, rather than distance learning), so we were able to support each other through it (and rant at each other if necessary!) Some of my colleagues, and other people on the course, also had young children at home, and I imagine they found it even more difficult!

    Have you spoken to your manager about how stretched you feel? If your company is funding your studies then I imagine they will want you to succeed. Are there others in your company going through the training? If not, perhaps you might be able to reach out to others on the course and form a study group, or just share tips / notes with them online?

    Hang in there, I promise you it's worth it in the end!

  • I worked full time while studying mine and can empathise, but I managed my time appallingly badly, pulling all-nighters to get assignments finished etc. 

    Have you discussed the situation with your manager to see if there is any support that you can get - you don't want to end up in a situation where you being held to account for the mistakes, and the course should be to the organisation's benefit after all...

    In terms of the ER stuff, have you or the org given thought to a mentor?

  • Hi Pamela, you are certainly not alone. I am studying my MSc in HRM and also working full time as a Business Partner for a very demanding organisation and I can relate and sympathise with your situation. The fact that you are doing it distance learning is an additional burden which shows your commitment.

    Your manager should be supporting you through this process regardless of their financial commitment or otherwise to your education. Either way they are benefiting from your growing knowledge. If you are struggling at peak time (work and study) I would enquire about working on a flex arrangement or alternatively request to have a couple of weeks a year as study leave. Your suggestion of working four days might help but will the work just wait for you and start piling up?

     For me the key to trying to maintain a balance has been via pushing back on work commitments. You have to remember that this is only a temporary arrangement and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Remember this forum is always here if you need a good rant to get your frustrations out of your system!

  • Pamela

    | 49 Posts


    5 Aug, 2014 12:16

    Thanks for the replies. I was starting to question my own abilities and lose confidence. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. I don't want to push back on the employee relations aspects because it's good to get experience but at the same time I think it's too much on top of my other workload and study commitments. I don't feel I'm able to focus 100% at work or with my studies.

    I did ask about a mentor but the only other HR contact is my line manager and she is extremely busy and  rarely on site. I approached the CIPD a couple of months ago about a mentor outside my organisation but have yet to hear back. 

  • Jon

    | 45 Posts


    5 Aug, 2014 13:38

    I am coming to the end of my my studies - my dissertation is due in September. I took the decision to do an accelerated route which basically combined year 2 with the dissertation year and it has been incredibly tough since the turn of the year when I have had two assignments, a group presentation and two exams by May as well as begin the dissertation in terms of the literature review and field research.

    I do not have a magic formula in terms of how you deal with this because it wasn't until my exams finished that I realised how much time it was taking up in terms of time away from my wife and two children who have been incredibly supportive (and tolerant)

    I would look for support wherever you can find it - this forum, your line manager, friends, peers, fellow students, etc. but what I did about a month or so ago I stopped for a week - basically took a deep breath and collected my thoughts and at the end of that week sat down and wrote a really clear project plan of what I had left to do, what I could "sacrifice" from elsewhere in terms of time and so far I have broadly stuck to it - but taking that time off made me realise that I was driving around in circles as I had too many thoughts in my head that just weren't productive.

    Like I said I have no magic formula but please keep going as you will regret giving up for the sake of finding that little extra bit of resilience and capacity - I gave up after one year some 13 years ago and only now found the opportunity to catch up!! I have regretted it since I gave up and I am determined that I will get to the finishing line this time.

    Good luck and hope you get where you need to be.


  • Julie

    | 1952 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    5 Aug, 2014 14:06

    I am really encouraged by the supportive, reflective comments above.  I am at the other end of my career so my training was donkey's ages ago but I can remember the feeling of being out of control and rising panic.  Jon's "step back and review followed by sensible task list" sounds a really positive plan and each item you complete and strike off the list will show your progress.

    Good luck to all who are studying and I hope you find study buddies - have you tried your local CIPD branch?  Even if there is no one currently studying the members will be fairly local to you and may be able to provide support and encouragement or mentoring.

  • The other thing (talking slightly out turn here!) is use us!  If you are struggling with an ER thing, bounce it off the boards - there are some extremely knowledgeable people on here that seem to reply within minutes, often.

    I'm in the midst of upgrading my membership and developing in an officer role, but always happy to help - PM me if you want/need further contact details and I'll always try to assist.

  • Megan Peppin

    | 980 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    6 Aug, 2014 07:10

    Great comments!

    I studied my MSc whilst working in a demanding role and dealing with some demands at home. It did feel that I had no life at that point!  I remember it well.

    It might be helpful to chat to your boss and generate some options rather than going with one solution. Between you, you may generate other options.  You may also be able to get support and advice from your study centre.

    Reading your comments, it sounds like the ER work is taking up head and worry space; as someone else said, you have a willing and strong resource available to you here. In terms of mentoring; I have a more generalist approach but very happy to have a chat and see whether there is anything I can offer.

    It sounds too like you have already stepped back to reflect, and sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, in my experience, stepping back and stopping for a short period, can help.  I remember my supervisor (academic) enforcing a week of no studying as I had become so immersed that reality was becoming a little distorted.

    I agree too with Jon's comments; you will get there and it will be worth it.:)



  • Steve Bridger

    | 6529 Posts

    Community Manager

    6 Aug, 2014 11:36

    Hi Pamela,

    Further to the great comments above, you might find this thread of help, too.

  • Louise Oldridge

    | 26 Posts

    Chartered Member

    6 Aug, 2014 15:09

    Hi Pamela

     I would echo what others have said and encourage you to get in touch with your local branch.  I started studying at the same time as starting out in my HR career and my branch arranged for me to have a mentor who was there for me both in terms of study and work to help talk things through and she was an invaluable resource who has since become a friend.

     I'm on the committee for Leicestershire so if you're unsure who to get in contact with initially I'm sure myself or Steve could point you in the right direction.

     A lot of us have been there and empathise but it will be worth it in the end, I promise!

    Best of luck


  • Trace

    | 15 Posts


    7 Aug, 2014 07:43

    Hi Pamela

    I am also doing the Post Grad in HR Management through distance learning, and I too am having a bit of a panic at the moment. It'd be great to keep in touch, I'm sure we could help each other out


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