Guest post by JHU Alumnus Anand Narayan, ’04. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2011, and currently works at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Many people hold the view that there is an irreconcilable conflict between work and academics—the more time one spends working, the less time one spends studying for classes and engaging in extracurricular and social activities. Put crudely, the more you work, the more your academic and social life will suffer. Naturally, many students view work as an unwanted intrusion on their precious free time. For parents who can afford to finance their children’s education, in what ways can working benefit their student?
Before the beginning of my freshman year, my parents and I harbored similar concerns—I sincerely questioned whether or not I would be able to work and take classes at the same time. In my situation though, I wasn’t able to decide whether or not I wanted to work. I knew that I would have to work in order to help finance my education.
I began to work in the month of June, approximately 3 months before my first day of classes. I worked throughout the entire summer, 2 days a week at the Student Employment Office and 3 days at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools. After registering for my fall classes, I filled up practically all of the remaining time in my weekly schedule with approximately 10 hours of work.
The semester began in early September and I began my new work schedule. For the first few weeks, many of my fears seemed to come to fruition; I slept irregularly and performed poorly in my classes. With time however, things began to change.
Because I had to devote time every week to work, I began to organize my time in a way that I never had done before. I thoroughly scrutinized every hour of my day and plotted out my schedule weeks in advance. I began to use the hours when I was not in class or work much more efficiently, with focus and determination.
Thanks to my newfound discipline, I was able to adjust to my classes within a few weeks. The workload associated with classes no longer appeared as daunting and my grades began to improve.
At the Office of Student Employment Services, I handed out paychecks, answered payroll questions, and helped Homewood students find part time jobs. With 10 hours of work in between classes, I was able to break up the monotony of a back-to-back class schedule. In doing so, I have been able to learn about different cultures from a diverse group of students and staff members, make a lot of friendships with student/staff members, and gain a lot of professional experience in the process.
My work at the Student Employment office was extremely helpful to me in finding my second job as a Research Assistant at the Department of Radiology. In part due to the favorable recommendation of the Director of Student Employment Services, I was accepted in a radiological research group, even though as a freshman I had no research experience. At the Radiology Department, I helped conduct studies evaluating the clinical applicability of film digitizers in general radiology and mammography. One of the most rewarding aspects of my work at the Radiology department over the last 2 1/2 years is the fact that. I have been involved with every single aspect of a medical research study from the arduous task of writing a grant proposal to the satisfaction of publishing and presenting a paper. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to get an in depth look at medicine from clini cal researchers and technicians. These experiences have piqued my interest in academic medicine and have given me valuable insights into scientific research and the field of Radiology.
With the passage of time, I began to participate in a variety of other activities including volunteering at soup kitchens, local hospitals, political campaigns, etc.. These activities have enriched my undergraduate experience and have given me the opportunity to learn about and give back to the community.
I have also been invited the last two years to speak to parents and students at Orientation on behalf of the Office of Student Employment Services. The concerns I heard from parents and students were familiar ones—Is there enough time in the week to work? Will I be able to work and have a social life? Will my son/daughter have time to work and do well in classes? These were the same concerns that my parents and I had at the beginning of my freshman year.
But I no longer harbor any of those concerns. Working has made me become a much more mature, focused student who is much more capable of handling numerous commitments at the same time. The numerous activities I have participated in, in turn, have made my experience here at Hopkins varied and interesting.