By, Kelly Fuson, Traditional MBA ‘11
Many students often debate about what their top priorities should be here at Business School and the top two that are often debated are: class work vs. career search. On top of that, many students are highly involved and have committed themselves to one, if not more, leadership positions. In addition, many students are employed part-time as Teacher’s Assistants, Research Assistants, or some other on-campus position such as in the Admissions Office, or like myself, an employee of the Career Management Center. I don’t think I need to continue much further to prove the point that there are many responsibilities and obligations competing for our time.
As someone who appreciates the value in crunching numbers, I went ahead and took the liberty to create what I will refer to as a “Time Budget” with the hopes of proving what we all already know: there simply isn’t enough time in the day. Furthermore, I hope to stir up the debate regarding the power struggle between class work and career search. Because after all, as you will see, there simply isn’t enough time to effectively do both (I urge someone to prove me wrong).
Granted, I’ve made a gross amount of assumptions and generalizations when crunching my numbers (scroll down to see the complete calculations) and I’m happy to respond to or qualify any of them. But even based on my conservative estimate of time spent in each category (class work, career search, extra-curricular activities, and daily rituals), students are left with only 6.25 hours of free time a week; that’s less than one hour per day to either watch TV, go on Facebook, talk to loved ones, or—in my case—play Guitar Hero. If we were to consider the high-estimate of time spent on class work, students are left with -9.75 hours of free time which need to be taken out of another category, most likely sleep.
My time estimates are all based on giving 100% to each obligation/responsibility that is expected of students while also living a “Tignum approved” lifestyle (8 hours of sleep, preparing healthy meals, etc.). On average, professors tend to assign one case and one article which total (according to one class) 36 pages per class session (we’ll assume this includes the analysis of exhibits). Combine that with deliverables such as an executive summary of case issues and/or time spent on group projects and a student’s “work week” can vary anywhere between 51.25 to 67.25 hours. That’s a pretty hefty work week even for a full-time student – assuming we’re all doing what is expected of us.
Meanwhile, the Career Management Center is constantly preaching the need to network and do company research and attend job fairs. I’m the first to agree with them, and not just because I am a Peer Career Advisor, but because I truly think it’s necessary to not only get a job but to discover one that is truly a good fit for you. Following an agenda according to best practices would result in an average of 9.25 hours a week, which is nothing compared to class work. Once you add on extra-curricular activities that will ideally showcase your leadership and initiative, the total now becomes 14.25 hours per week. But what about students whose loans don’t cover all of their expenses? I estimate, based on my personal network, that 50% of students are employed while in school and spend an average of 5 hours a week working. Our total, including class work, career search, and extra-curriculars, is now between 70.5 to 86.5 hours a week. Once you add in daily rituals (sleeping, eating, etc.) you end up with the remaining free time I listed in the beginning, anywhere from 6.25 to -9.75 hours a week.
I’ll be the first to admit that I spent a good portion of time writing this blog while in class. I won’t tell you which one of course, but needless to say, the main resolution to this time struggle is to multi-task. I’m a big proponent of living a “Tignum approved” lifestyle and I am much less functional without a decent amount of sleep. This leaves me in a position to find other areas of this “Time Budget” to steal from. As a “Maximizer,” I try to read more efficiently, run group meetings effectively, and I will also admit that I gamble by reading only those assignments that I think will be critical to contributing to in-class discussion or assignments.
My goal is that after reading this, professors will realize that they are, in fact, fighting for our time and that simply listing a required reading on their syllabus is no guarantee that it will get done. I’d rather that they make a concerted effort to compel us to read by highlighting the value it will bring to our lives and our education rather than letting us infer it for ourselves or hope that a grade (which we are reminded quite often don’t really matter in the “real world”) will be the sole motivator. In addition, I hope that everyone is reminded that spending time on a career search is crucial, and if you follow even the basic recommendation given in this “Time Budget” it only amounts to 22% of the conservative estimate of time spent on class work.
If we all face the reality that the majority of students who pursue their MBA are doing it with the goal (one of many I’m sure) of finding a better job, then the debate still remains: is spending time increasing our knowledge through classes or focusing on our career search the best way to get a job? Is it some combination of both, and if so, what is the right combination? Or better yet, what is yours?
Class Work: Conservative Estimate
Reading : 36 pages x 2 minutes per page = 72 minutes
Deliverable (1/class): 2 pages x 30 minutes per page = 60 minutes
Projects/Papers: 30 minutes per class
Total/class = 162 minutes per class = 2.7 hours
Total homework time = 162 minutes x 5 classes = 810 minutes = 13.5 hours x twice a week = 27 hours
Class time = 3 hours/class/week x 5 classes = 15 hours
Total class work in a week = 42 hours
Class Work: High Estimate
Reading : 36 pages x 3 minutes per page = 108 minutes
Deliverable (1/class): 3 pages x 30 minutes per page = 90 minutes
Projects/Papers: 60 minutes per class
Total/class session = 108 + 90 + 60 = 258 minutes per class = 4.3 hours
Total homework time = 258 minutes x 5 classes = 1290 minutes = 21.5 hours x twice a week = 43 hours
Class time = 3 hours/class/week x 5 classes = 15 hours
Total class work in a week = 58
Career Search (Ideal)
6 emails per week (introduction & follow-ups) x 15 minutes per email = 45 minutes
2 phone calls per week x 30 minutes per call = 60 minutes
1 speaker/networking event = 90 minutes
Networking total/week = 195 minutes = 3.25 hours
company research – 2 companies/week x 90 minutes/company = 180 minutes
job applications – 2 applications/week x 90 minutes/application (including tailor resume & cover letter) = 180 minutes
Job search total/week = 360 minutes = 6 hours
Total Career Search (networking + job search) = 9.25 hours/week
Conservative total estimate (class work + career search) = 42 + 9.25 hours = 51.25 hours
High total estimate (class work + career search) = 58 + 9.25 hours = 67.25 hours
Extra-Curricular Activities (Average)
Extra-curricular Activities: 5 hours/week depending on involvement
Student employment: 5 hours/week
Total Extra-Curricular Activities: 10 hours/week
Daily Rituals (Average)
Exercising: 30 minutes/day x 5 days = 150 minutes/week = 2.5 hours/week
Sleep: 8 hours/day x 7 days = 56 hours/week
Eating: 3 hours/day x 7 days = 21 hours/week
Other (1 hour/day/item – grooming, driving, chores) = 3 hours/day x 7 days = 21 hours/week
Total Daily Rituals: 100.5 hours/week
Total Extra-Curricular Activities + Daily Rituals: 110.5 hours/week
168 hours in a week (24 x 7) minus the following:
**Conservative estimate (51.25 hours) = 116.75 free time (116.75 – 110.5) = 6.25 hours/week
**high estimate (67.25 hours) = 100.75 free time (100.75 – 110.5) = -9.75 hours/week
*not including: phone & email time (catching up with family/friends), Facebook, TV, etc.