A Juggling Act

A Juggling Act

As a Graduate Assistant with the Business & Entrepreneurship department, I interviewed a ton of alumni and also interacted with current students who promote an active entrepreneurial mindset. You can guarantee that every student in Columbia is a self-driven, well connected, and experienced young adult. And not by happenstance. It is the conscious effort and persistence of each artist to pursue every opportunity that arises and network with everyone who can possibly move their career forward. It pays off but can also be very exhausting…as you can imagine.

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My first year at Columbia College Chicago was a major shift for me. I was a prime example of the “CCC mentality” before joining the MAM program. I was highly active in the music department and student organizations in my undergraduate years. The transition to graduate school was unchartered territory, so I confined myself to the basics until I adjusted: academics, my job, and a minimal social life. It worked for me but I grew bored with this right away.

It was easy to overcome the routine life since Chicago offers so many events, meetups, organizations, and more. Especially coming from an entrepreneurial background, I picked up my hobby again and explored ways to monetize it, found entrepreneurial events to attend and network, and even explored different career options to expand my non-profit, event management skillset.

Now, I am rounding out my graduate experience with a lot on my plate: academics, two jobs, an entrepreneurial project, and somewhat of a social life. The biggest challenge is learning how to manage the juggling act. The art of managing graduate school is much different than the undergraduate experience. There is another level of experience that one pursues through internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work. Couple that with the “adult life” bills and responsibilities; things quickly start to collide. It’s taken me a while but I’m learning to find my groove and leverage my opportunities.

My entrepreneurial venture is somewhat creative, so I managed to incorporate it into my coursework. For example, in the fall semester I built out my business plan and this semester I get to build up my website. With this strategy, my side project isn’t taking away from my academics.

B Chic University logo

My new business logo, developed in my Entrepreneurship and New Business Creation course

Additionally, I found a way to manage 35 work hours per week (both jobs combined) while studying full time at CCC. This can get very inconvenient schedule-wise, but dedicating weekly time to study before and after work helps me stay on top of things.

Lastly, I took on this great project that promotes entrepreneurship in the creative Chicago community, Startup Weekend Chicago, but it takes many hours and dedication as well. Again, to balance things out, I was able to fit it into my schedule as an Independent Project. Speaking of, learn more about Startup Weekend here. I encourage you, if you’re in the Chicago area, to attend the event and pitch your creative business idea!

Startup Weekend Chicago Creative logo

Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition, March 31 – April 2

It’s all a juggling act but it can be done! Prospective students worry most about maintaining their jobs, landing meaningful internships, or building out their business ideas. I say, go for it. Set those goals early on and build your academic experience around that. Graduate studies are most enriched when coupled with your passions and challenged by non-college opportunities. Be prepared to drop a few balls at times, but in the end, the juggling act becomes second nature.