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How to study while working full time

28 November, 2019Juno Baker

Whether it’s a degree course or corporate professional learning, studying alongside work can be difficult to manage. At one of our recent REACH events, we picked up a few tips from the panel on how to stay on top of your studies while working full time.

Woman biting down on a pencil while studying

“If you’re in banking and you want to progress, you never stop learning,” says Daniel Heger, Internal Auditor (AVP) at Barclays. “You have to go horizontally, vertically, backwards – and you need to gather all the information you can from different areas.”

Amit Lathia, Associate Director, Front Office Risk Management at UBS Wealth Management, agrees. “One thing you learn about banking is that it’s always about learning something new. The industry’s constantly changing.”

Which means, if you work in financial services you need to keep on top of new developments – whether it’s by studying for new qualifications, a part or full-time degree, or just keeping up with your required hours of continued professional development.

But how do you fit it all in? How do you manage your time?

Be self-disciplined

Before coming to study at The London Institute of Banking & Finance, Daniel was a lorry driver. He continued to work full-time over the three years he was working towards a BSc (Hons) Banking Practice & Management – a full-time degree course.

“I was driving lorries and I was studying,” he says. “It was really difficult. I realised in the end that there is enough time in a day for everything. You just have to be strict with yourself!”

He describes how he studied “a lot every night, for about three hours”.

“That was the biggest challenge – instead of doing something else I only studied,” he says, but adds it was worth it when he got his role at Barclays.

Be flexible

Oliver Dewhurst is working in systems development operations at a wealth management company, and also studying part-time for our MSc in Banking & Finance. He says one of the problems with managing time is that, in a client-led business, it’s difficult to plan ahead.

“It’s hard to predict how busy you’ll be, but you have to be willing to sacrifice your own personal time.”

Talk to your employer

Amit suggests that if your studies are related to the work you do, it’s worth talking to your employer about using some of the working day for study.

It’s always worth asking, he says. “You can put in place an arrangement – if you get an hour a week, two hours a week – where you can lock yourself away in a room.”

Find a study buddy

If you’re already working in financial services – particularly for one of the larger firms – you may discover that you’re not the only person studying while working full time. You may even find a colleague who’s doing the same course or qualification as you.

“Find someone else in the firm who’s doing the same qualification, so you can bounce around ideas, talk about some of the topics,” says Amit.

Your employer, or HR department, might be able to help you there.

Make the most of the dead time

Think about all the dead time in your life – commuting is a good example. You can use this time to study.

Podcasts are a great way to take your mind off being squashed in a packed train or bus, while learning new things and gaining deeper insights into the world of finance.

CeMAP TV looks at mortgage industry changes with professionals and experts. Watching the discussions will help you towards CeMAP Professional status and the CeMAP Advanced Professional, and also counts towards continued professional development (CPD).

Amit suggests looking around for “anything you can find that’s interactive, that you can do on the train”.

Keep the end goal in sight

Never forget while you’ve undertaken to study while working and remind yourself that it will be worth it. Amit says, “It’s about having that vision, and the end goal in sight.”

It’s useful to plan ahead and set yourself milestones, or mini targets, something to work towards to keep you on track.  

“Some sort of target I always found useful was to know when I was going to sit my exams,” says Amit, “so that I was working towards a date. Not having that in place, you can find yourself drifting.”

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