Balancing Education and Extracurriculars in a Remote Environment
By Erin Rebello
Over the past few months, our world has slowly been changing gears as we pivot from this pandemic and shift to a new normal. Although many things are going back to the way they were pre-pandemic, one thing that’s definitely here to stay is the shift to working and volunteering in a remote environment. Many opportunities typically held in-person with a fixed schedule are restructuring with more flexible hours and options to work online. Not only does this open up jobs and volunteer positions further away from you, but it also allows for you to get involved when you can.
As a result of this rather sudden switch, more and more students are looking for remote jobs and volunteer opportunities to prepare themselves for post-secondary education. However, when searching for any opportunities, including remote opportunities, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the work is still real work and that you still need to balance it with both your educational and personal time.
Finding a Job:
The first step towards working or volunteering online is finding an available opportunity, which might be easier than you expected! The best place to start looking for a job is by asking people you know; this includes parents, friends, teachers, guidance counsellors, and even previous employers/volunteer coordinators. By speaking with people you’re on good terms with, you might just be hot on the trail to finding the perfect job and receiving a stellar recommendation. The pandemic has opened up many jobs in a hurry, and without rapid marketing or recruitment, many jobs are still sitting open because people don’t know they exist!
If asking around isn’t your style, or if you’re not getting the results you want, you might want to try taking your job search online. Using websites like Indeed or LinkedIn allows you to search for jobs or volunteer opportunities that meet your specific needs. You can even use specific filters and keywords to focus on the types of opportunities you’re particularly interested in.
Making Sure It’s a Good Fit:
When job hunting, you not only need to ensure that you meet an employer’s needs, but also that working for the employer meets your needs. When messaging recruiters or speaking with managers during an interview, it’s important to ask questions to see if the job meets the needs of your lifestyle. Some common topics you might want to ask about are:
- The type of work you’re being hired for
- The amount of money you are being paid (and how you’ll be paid)
- The typical hours required (and whether you can commit sufficiently)
Benefits and Consequences:
It’s also important to zoom out. Look at the bigger picture from time to time when searching for online work, considering the specific benefits and consequences of getting a job. You should try to make your own pro/con list, but to get started, here are a few common benefits and consequences that modern teens might consider.
- Receive real-life work or volunteer experience that is helpful when searching for future jobs.
- Develop skills that make you an asset.
- Save money or rack up volunteer hours to either help with saving for university or when applying to scholarships.
- Working, even remotely, can be a huge time drain, taking out large chunks of your weekly routine.
- Having a job can be extremely tiring, sapping you of energy you might have wanted to use during your free time.
- It can be hard to balance school and work, and you might end up neglecting either one or both commitments.
Striking a Balance:
If you’ve carefully considered your options and are still looking for remote ways to break into the job or volunteer market, the next item on your agenda should be learning how to keep a balance between school and extracurricular involvements. There are many aspects of striking a work-life balance that you should thoroughly consider. Here are a few things to bear in mind when trying to strike a balance:
- It’s important to keep track of school and work priorities.
- You will need to prioritize your deadlines in terms of importance.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew; just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean it’s not real!
- Open communication with teachers and employers can be harder via email but is very important to keep communication lines open.
- Do a bit of research into more efficient study strategies, and try them for yourself.
- Try to work with both your teachers and employers for potential considerations they can make for your situation. If earning money is crucial to obtaining education, you might be able to speak with your teacher for reasonable extension accommodations, and with your boss for hours that work with your class schedules.
Overall, a virtual job is a great way to break into the workforce, but you should also remember that it is a real job. Lots of consideration should go into whether or not it would be a good fit for your lifestyle and prior commitments.