Life After Grad School: What to Do With All That Time On Your Hands
Time on my hands? I may be fooling myself by thinking I’ll have time on my hands once I’ve finished with my Master’s of Business Administration at the end of October. I’m not sure I had time to do it in the first place, but that didn’t stop me. I have been studying for my M.B.A. for the last 17 months. It occurred to me the other day that my classes, which have taken place almost entirely online, will no longer be taking up the majority of my free time. I began to think about all the things I could do with that time, or would get to do again.
Glorious sleep. I have always had a tenuous relationship with sleep, and working full-time and carrying a full load of fast-track online courses hasn’t helped. Each of my classes are just eight weeks long, but cram 16 weeks of work into that time, and I take two per session. Deadlines are usually midnight, and I work at seven in the morning.
While you need more sleep the younger you are, it still behooves many of us to get around eight hours of sleep a night. I certainly don’t, so when this is all over, I very well might sleep for a few days straight, especially since my weekends are three days long!
Online Media Binges
For the last 17 months, my past answer to the question: “Have you watched . . . ?” has been: “It’s on my list!” My Netflix list has reached its breaking point. It’s been suggested by a friend that I create a second viewer on my account just to add to the pandemonium. Great idea or recipe for disaster?
Given the fact that I only stream my media, I think I’ll keep my lists to one per channel. After I’ve slept for a few days, I’ll likely move on to a Netflix binge, then Amazon Prime, then some Hulu Plus.
There’s also a stack of DVDs I’ve borrowed from friends who've likely not realized till now I’ve yet to return them. I think it’s time I view them. Perhaps before I watch all the digital media.
The other “list” I’m frightened yet excited to tackle is my reading list. Classmates who have finished the same program as I have expressed their happiness at having time again to read for pleasure. I’ve made room for installments of my favorite mystery series in the last year, but those were the only two novels I’ve read in the last year and a half. That’s practically sacrilegious for this ex-English teacher!
In 2008, I began participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It challenges writers to write 50,000 of a new idea within the month of November. Water for Elephants began as a NaNoWriMo story. I’m not quite that ambitious at this point, as I’ll have completed my 20-page capstone paper the night before NaNoWriMo begins, but I’m looking forward to having the spare time to do it this year. I failed miserably last year.
This year, I’m going to challenge myself by tackling one of my favorite genres to read: mystery. I’ve never attempted a mystery before, but I have a great idea inspired by the recent bike touring experience of a good friend. While I typically write by the seat of my pants, I think I’ll be properly prepared this year.
I got the travel bug when I was young. After road-tripping all over the country with my family as youngster, I travelled to Washington, D.C. with schoolmates in eighth grade. I was hooked. Any time I can travel is a good time, and I’ve been on two weekend-long road trips since I started grad school.
They were certainly worth it: I drove with the bestie to Portland in early 2014 to watch a filmed production of Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston in the lead. And I recently visited a sister-from-another-mister who moved away.
Once grad school’s done, I think it’s time to take another ambitious trip. After reading all the Aubrey-Maturin novels by Patrick O’Brian and watching Master and Commander on repeat, I’ve wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands. I could just make an ultimate experience of it, and plan a journey around the entire tip of the South American continent. Now if only I could drive there in my new car...
A few of the professors in my program have asked about my after-graduation plans, then not-so-subtly segued into suggesting I not stop with my M.B.A. My M.B.A will be my third degree, but I can’t say that the thought of adding to my educational resume doesn’t appeal to me.
When in undergrad, I remember being encouraged not to wait between graduation and pursuing my graduate degree. I didn’t listen. There will be nearly 20 years between the two graduation dates.
If I do decide to add to my education, I’m likely to add a certificate or degree in either the medical or technology field. Both fields are growing, and with an M.B.A., I’ll have the administrative foundation I want and need. I’m a lifelong learner, and I believe that you can and should pursue education whenever and wherever you want. I’m just not sure I want to wait 20 more years to do it. One professor has suggested I get my Ph.D., which has always intrigued me. If I’m going to do so, I’d like to start soon!
Since late 2013, I have volunteered as a committee member for a local non-profit event. The event raises funds for the American Cancer Society, and I’ve always been very involved as a participant and a volunteer. School shrinked my volunteer hours considerably, and I’m looking forward to giving more of my time to the causes about which I care.
In fact, I may add to them by scrolling the local boards of volunteermatch.org for new opportunities. Or I can always sign up to be a reading tutor at the local library.
Fridays are the first day of my three-day weekend. Right now, I use them to complete assignments and catch up on reading. When I finish my capstone project, I might get a second job.
I’m going to have to start paying back my student loans, so I might as well start supplementing the job I love with a part-time job I love. I can plop myself on my couch for a Netflix binge and use my tablet to find some secondary employment.
Start a Business
I could always take my supplemental income dreams to the next level and start my own business. For years, I conducted research as a staff member for the planning and development arm of my local municipality. With the proper business plan, I could easily develop this skill set into a money-earning business of my own.
Whatever I Want
By the end of October, when I officially finish my M.B.A. program, I will be ready to be done. I’m already feeling those feelings. Getting the degree has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had in years, personally and professionally.
What I’m excited about doing when it’s over is whatever I please, including just about everything on this list! If you're currently in grad school, what are your plans for after graduation? Let us know in the comments below!