What is it like to study part-time while working full-time in the finance industry? In part 3 of 4 of our wide-ranging conversation with Rotman Master of Finance alumna, Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial, she shares her personal experiences with getting it all done. Remember to check out part I and II of our conversations.
What’s the lifestyle for you as a woman in finance?
It’s busy, I like it. A lot it is about your personality and what you want to do career-wise and in your personal life. For me, I feel anxious if I’m not doing anything. For example, this year, work was pretty heavy. I worked with Manulife Hong Kong and Japan, so I was always on calls at eight in the morning, eight o’clock at night. Then school in the last semester was crazy. I also had a wedding in May. In February, I completed my group fitness certificate as a personal trainer. If it wasn’t for exercise, I wouldn’t have energy for all those things.
That’s a lot! Let’s talk about your strategy for juggling these different areas in your life. One of the big questions that people pose about part-time programs is how to balance, work, family and study at the same time.
The thing is, I don’t think I’m the best student in class. My approach is to separate work and school. During the week, I focused on work. Some people have time here and there to do assignments and stuff. But because of my work schedule, I’m constantly working overtime. The 8AM/8PM calls mean that I wouldn’t have time during the week to do assignments unless I really had to. I devote my time 100% to school on the weekends. I’m always kind of playing catch up. We have class on Wednesday nights, Saturdays, and sometimes Saturday and Sunday. I definitely devote those days mostly to assignment and readings. I make sure that I get whatever I need done, done.
I’m not a super woman either, so I can’t do everything at once. You have to give up something. So I had to see my friends less frequently. I didn’t really go out all that much during my studies. The only time I really go out is after class on Saturday. I’ll go out for a drink with friends or classmates. And I’ll make sure I don’t over indulge to the point where I have a hangover the next day because that would waste my whole day. You really have to be disciplined.
During the MFin program, I got a lot of support. My family, my husband. And also classmates. They’re your motivators.
[Laughs] For my wedding, I was able to push much of it to my husband. He did a lot.
So it sounds like you really have to be dedicated to achieving what you want – and studying while working full-time is possible.
Well, for the Rotman MFin program, it’s part-time, so the school understands you’re not going to be 100% at school. The curriculum is structured in a way so that all the work is very doable.
The thing is, you’re paying good money for your education and advancement. It all depends on what you want out of this program. I’m sure some people may just go through the motions or even miss classes. You paid for this. You should definitely get as much out it as possible.
This article was posted on August 21, 2014.
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