How to Achieve a Work-Life-Study Balance as a Part-Time Master in Management Student
Interview with part-time master student and information architect at IBM, Julia Fischer
Julia Fischer studies the part-time Master in Management program at HHL and works as an information architect at IBM. While a part-time master program can easily fast-track your career, we know that it also comes with an extra workload. That’s why we reached out to Julia and asked her to share how she manages her work-life-study balance.
Flexible schedule and location ensure work-life-study balance
The program’s flexibility allows you to reconcile your current job with your aspirations to gain a Master’s degree. This also means providing you with the most convenient location to accommodate your study schedule amidst your current responsibilities. Our study locations are located in Leipzig, Cologne and Munich.
Weekend lectures, term abroad and program extension
We also ensure that the study times are compatible with your current occupation. The Master in Management program starts in September, has a duration of two years and consists of seven to eight lecture weekends per year. You will only need to be present on the HHL campus in Leipzig for two residential weeks each year. Depending on your workload and the choice of optional term abroad, you can prolong the program to 33 months – with no additional fees!
We do our best to provide a good work-life-study balance for your students. However, no one can give you better advice than our current students. Let’s jump right into the interview with Julia.
Since I can’t always estimate how long I’ll be working on a project or preparing a customer appointment in the evening, flexibility was a decisive factor in deciding on HHL.
What made you decide on HHL and why was a part-time program the right choice for you?
During my early years at IBM, I realized that I would like to enhance my practical experience with theoretical knowledge. In my bachelor’s degree, I studied innovation and design management, so it was especially important to me to find a master’s program that really takes a deep dive into business and finance and focuses on leadership theories.
At the same time, it was essential that the program would be perfectly compatible with my job. Since I can’t always estimate how long I’ll be working on a project or preparing a customer appointment in the evening, flexibility was a decisive factor.
HHL’s part-time Master in Management Program (M.Sc.) is a program designed to enhance your existing knowledge of business administration in a unique interdisciplinary education experience build for the business world reality. Drawing upon their in-depth knowledge and professional experience, HHL professors provide new insights and innovative approaches to current and emerging business challenges – all with a sharp focus on your personal development. You will acquire the skills and enhance leadership abilities that allow you to master change and excel in intercultural environments.
Program duration and structure
The master’s program is perfectly structured to meet your individual needs and interests to maintain a healthy work-life-study balance. It takes your time constraints and job responsibilities into consideration, with courses taking place on 14-16 weekends over a two-year period and thus ensuring continuity and a workload that is predictable. Additionally, four residential weeks are scheduled to allow everyone enrolled in the program to get to know each other and form study groups.
Three study locations to chose from
One big plus of the part-time Master in Management is the flexibility to choose between one of three cities to complete your weekend modules. You choose your location at the beginning of your studies depending on which one suits your professional requirement best – the Leipzig campus, or the study locations in Cologne and Munich.
Let’s take a look at your current position at IBM. Does your employer offer any support to employees studying part-time?
Yes, at IBM there is a special program: Master@IBM, where you get the opportunity to continue your education while working. This gives the necessary flexibility to prepare for exams and courses. My manager supported and encouraged me unconditionally, which was really great. At the same time, you can talk to other students who also work at IBM and study at the same or a different university.
What learnings or course content do you already benefit from in your work at IBM?
My job requires me to work IT- and Innovation-related. I end up living in my own little IT universe. The studies at HHL helped me to broaden my horizon and accelerate my career. Additionally, I learned all the basics that I would otherwise not have approached in my daily life. Furthermore, I was able to hone my expertise with the help of additional electives.
At HHL most students have very similar goals, are eager to support each other and share a similar mindset.
How does the exchange with fellow students or the HHL network support you on your professional journey?
I believe one of the most important reasons to choose HHL is your fellow students. At HHL most students have very similar goals, are eager to support each other and share a similar mindset. You learn a lot from each other, you push each other, and improve your intercultural skills.
Something that I really enjoy about HHL is that you meet all the other first-years during the introductory week. In addition to the weekends that you spend at your chosen location, there is a residential week once every six months with all students from all locations. In our first week, there was a cooking event that encouraged us to work together as a team. That evening I met a classmate who has since become my best friend. Together, we prepare for exams and exchanged ideas. She is also the person, who reminds me to keep an eye on my work-life-study balance.
I have learned to set priorities. In the morning I always write a list of my most important To-Dos.
How do you manage a work-life-study balance? Can you share a routine that has worked for you?
I have learned to set priorities. In the morning I always write a list of my most important To-Dos. If you work, study and still want to have a private life, you are not going to be able to do everything you want. To make sure that important things don’t fall behind, I write these “priority” lists.
Here’s one thing, I never would have expected to happen: In my free time, I like to go jogging and meditate. It helps clear my head and grounds me.
What is your biggest take-away from your studies so far?
I just recently told a friend that I believe the mindset is by far the most important take-away. For one, you learn a lot about theoretical concepts and models and have great lecturers combining theory and industry expertise. However, I believe the most valuable part of the program is the exchange with fellow students. The insight into my peer’s work-life provides me with a “hands-on-leadership-mentality”.
The studies at HHL help me broaden my horizon and accelerate my career.
In what way has the flexible study schedule helped you work-life-balance?
When I started my bachelor’s degree I knew that I wanted to do my master’s degree at HHL. At that time HHL only had one location in Leipzig. Now there are three locations: Leipzig, Munich and Cologne. As I travel a lot for my job and live in Munich, it is a relief not to have to travel that much on the weekends. My main campus is in Munich. However, I was able to talk to my program manager and arrange to take some courses at a different location a few weeks later rather than the following year. This makes my life a lot easier.
“My main campus is in Munich. As I travel a lot for my job and live in Munich, it is a relief not to have to travel that much on the weekends.”
Do you have any advice for our prospective part-time students?
Enjoy the time you study at HHL to the fullest! You will definitely learn important things for life as you have chosen HHL – so take the chance and meet great people, build a network and have an incredible amount of fun.
HHL’s part-time master in management program
This year, the part-time Master in Management program welcomes 66 new students to its three locations in Leipzig, Cologne and Munich. If you would like some assistance in deciding if HHL has the right part-time Master in Management program for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with program counselor Julia Günther for additional information or take part in our virtual events.
This interview was first published in November 2020.