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I had worked two jobs while attending college but the three years I worked full time when studying part time were the most challenging of my life. I juggled them successfully by setting tight schedules, and drawing support from family.
Why back to school
Two years into my first job after graduating college, I realized I needed a masters degree to help me get a meaningful pay hike and promotion. I could not just give up my job and get a student loan. I decided to go back to school part time. My two choices were a part-time MBA from NYU Stern School of Business, and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) diploma program.
My employer participated in corporate tuition reimbursement and was willing to pay for either the part time MBA or the CFA program. However, since the MBA was considerably more expensive (about $100,000), we were required to sign an indenture agreement for three additional years. This meant if I left the job on my own, or my GPA fell below their requirement, I would have to repay the tuition. Co-workers who were on tuition reimbursement believed that their salaries and bonuses were frozen while they were on the program (a total of six years).
One and a half job demands
At the time, I was working 12-13 hour days, 60-65 hours a week. My typical workday started at 8-8:30 a.m. and ended at 8-9:30 p.m. I was essentially working one and a half jobs, and this was unlikely to change. Even though my boss encouraged me to go for the MBA (everyone in my team had one), I knew it was not feasible. I opted for the CFA, which required 300 hours of study for each six-hour long exam. I would study from January through June, and take a weekly prep class.
Tight schedule for study