Mastering the art of balance

Sarah Kemp - Graduate
Master of Project Management

Going back to study at postgraduate a level provokes many a thought. While the benefits seem obvious: a boost to your career, mental stimulation or just the thrill of a new challenge, there are inevitably a host of questions too. Where will I find the time? How do I balance family, work and study?

Sarah Kemp, UniSA Master of Project Management graduate and Learning and Development Manager for a global company, is familiar with both the excitement, and challenges that postgraduate study can present. Having commenced her study as a full-time working mother with two young children, aged two and five, Sarah is keen to share her tips for successfully managing the challenges faced as a postgraduate student.

“When I first attempted my undergrad degree, I had just left school and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I left university without finishing my degree, and decided to work full time. I worked my way up as an analyst and project officer, but found that needed more knowledge to enhance my work and progress further within the organisation.”

Having now completed her studies, Sarah shares her tips for returning to, and balancing study.

Try bite-sized chunks

“I completed the nested Graduate Certificate first”.

As this qualification forms part of a nested suite, Sarah was then able to proceed to the Diploma, and then Master, as each qualification extends to the next, providing a smooth transition to achieving a Master degree.

Find flexible study options and get a handle on online resources

“I returned to study part time, while working full time, and as a mum to a 2 year old and a 5 year old. It’s not easy, but the flexibility offered at UniSA made studying much easier. The ability to study after hours is appealing to me.”

Study when you can

“The online resources have really helped, as did the ability to access them from home (once the kids are asleep!). Make a plan to get small pieces done when you can, for example, plan out what you can get done in a lunch break, even if it’s just an essay plan, or write an assignment introduction. These small pieces really add up, and stop you from feeling overwhelmed.”

Find a supportive group within your study community

“There are a number of other students in the same situation as me, working with young families, and together with the staff, we have been able to offer each other great support. Through study I have made some fantastic friendships. For our group or team work meetings we usually go to Rundle Street after lectures, have some dinner and plan our work. “

Enjoy your studies

“Studying at such a busy stage in my life was not something that I planned, but I really enjoyed it, and it is certainly has provided me with the extra knowledge that I can apply to my job. Accept that the work/ life/ study balance won’t always be perfect, but it will be worth it- I’m proud to be able to show my kids what can be achieved when you work hard.”