A Doctoral Student’s Tips for Life Balance

Blog A Doc Student's Tips for Life Balance

An exceptionally challenging part of my life as a Walden student has been maintaining a healthy balance between school and career.  Like many Walden students, I have work and family obligations, and I must carefully structure my daily routine to accomplish the sometimes overwhelming amount of work and study.  Let me share four time-saving strategies I use to maintain a healthy balance.

Organize Space to Stay Focused
I’ve found that having a specific space set aside for my course studies works well.  While most of us don’t have the luxury of having a personal office and a work or school office, there is a trick I use to make it seem like two offices.  I have a folded sign that reminds me of my end goal of earning my doctorate, which is located next to my computer monitor.  When it’s time to study, I stand up my sign with “Dr.” in front of my name; when I’m at my desk working on non-academic projects, I fold it down.  This simple step serves as a powerful reminder of why I’m studying so hard and helps me stay focused on achieving my long-term goal.

Manage Time Wisely
Focusing on the here and now is the most important habit I’ve cultivated.  Some call it mindfulness, a habit of disciplining the mind to focus on what is in front of you, not the past or the future.  This takes practice!  One tool to help with this task is the Pomodoro technique, a popular way to give yourself a break and refresh your focus.  While it’s common to use 25 minutes of study and breaking for 5, you can experiment to find what works best for you.  On days when I feel sharp and on my game, I like to study for 30 and take 5.  On days when I feel sluggish, I may go 20 and 10.  Learn how to get started with Pomodoro to save time and get more done.

Maximize Technology Tools
Technology provides many great tools to assist with time management.  I prefer to use Evernote to organize my research, and Nozbe to manage my busy schedule.  Learn more about these tools to determine if they are right for you!  I have also found that using technology effectively requires personal habits that reinforce the strategies.  In other words, these tools will work only if you stay truly committed to your goals.

Say “No” or “Later”
I also consider a part of staying focused is being willing to say no when necessary.  If a friend wants to go out on Saturday night when you have a big paper due on Sunday, you may have to politely decline.  You can always tell her another Saturday night will work, but you need plenty of notice to organize your week in advance.  This approach will enlist your friend as part of your support group, an important strategy to help leverage your efforts.  Rewards, whether a night out with friends or a piece of chocolate for a great study day, are also great motivators to keep you energized.

I have discussed time management and technological tools to assist you in creating a productive space, rewarding yourself for work well done, and enlisting your support network for leverage.  Whether you are balancing your academic work, professional career, busy personal or family life; or a combination of all these factors, these tools can help you stay on track for long-term success. My final recommendation follows from the successful implementation of these ideas: enjoy the process!  Learning is a joyful experience, like feeling the excitement grow every day as you take small steps toward the finish line.  Deploy the strategies, enjoy the journey, and success will follow!

Written by Technology Graduate Assistant, Martin Culberson
Martin Culberson


Walden Career Services Center Joins YouTube and Facebook!

YouTube Channel Career SpotlightsFacebook screenshot

To make our recorded programs more accessible on mobile devices, we recently launched a YouTube Channel featuring our new Career Spotlights and archived webinar recordings. Career Spotlights are short videos of Walden students telling their career success stories. One student tells how she went from being unemployed to landing her dream job with a Fortune 500 Company! Our YouTube Channel also offers a variety of archived webinars to view at your convenience, from our Doctoral Webinar Series to our “Career Opportunities” webinars covering various career fields to our webinars tailored to our undergraduate students. Check it out today!

Have you “liked” our new Facebook community? We now have nearly 900 Likes. Our Facebook community features answers to student questions, announcements of upcoming webinars, articles of interest and TEDx talks you might find interesting. We hope you’ll join us there so you’ll be “in the know!”

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services

Have you heard about ResearchGate, a Professional Networking Site for Researchers?

When you think of large online professional networking sites, you probably consider LinkedIn and Google+. Are you aware that there is a valuable site for academic networking? It’s called ResearchGate.

ResearchGate is a free professional networking site for scientists and researchers founded in 2008 by medical doctors, Ijad Madisch and Sören Hofmayer, and computer scientist, Horst Fickenscher.  Madisch came up with the idea after he struggled to find an expert to consult concerning a problem he faced in his research. The site provides a platform for over 4 million members globally to share their data and research results. ResearchGate encourages sharing not only successful research results, but also failures. Madisch discussed in an interview  that much can be gained from exploring the reasons for failure and avoiding repeating the same mistake, but this opportunity is often missed because failures are typically not shared. The site also fosters discussion, consultation, and collaboration between researchers with similar interests and across disciplines. Dr. Daniel Salter from the Walden Center for Research Quality made this comment about ResearchGate, “One aspect of this site, which sets it apart from some of the similar ones, is the Q&A section.  RG members can subscribe to feeds in particular content areas, post questions to the community about research, and provide feedback and answers to questions posed by other scholars.”

ResearchGate members can upload a photo, create a profile based on research interests, expertise, and skills, and follow others’ research. The membership application requires that you use your institutional email address.  ResearchGate also has an extensive list of job postings for research related positions. You do not have to be a member to view the job postings at http://www.researchgate.net/jobs/

The Walden Career Services Center is a passionate advocate for building a strong professional network. Online professional networking provides an opportunity to exponentially increase your contact with other professionals, learn from others, and have an impact in your field. Check out ResearchGate.net at http://www.researchgate.net/aboutus.AboutUs.html

For more resources on publishing:


Written by Career Services Advisor, Denise Pranke

US Department of Labor’s Tools for America Job Seeker’s Challenge – the Ratings

Early last year, more than 16,000 individuals rated more than 600 online job and career tools in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Tools for America’s Job Seekers Challenge.  Those who participated in the ratings included workforce development professionals, jobseekers, and other members of the public.  They ranked the top sites in the following categories: General Job Boards, Niche Job Boards, Social Media Job Search, Career Planning Tools, and Career Exploration Tools.   To review the top rated sites in these categories, please click here.

In reviewing the lists, I found a variety of resources – something for everyone – from www.TweetMyJobs.com to receive the latest job openings via Twitter to www.JibberJobber.com to track your networking efforts to  www.Alison.com with free tutorials on a variety of subjects.  Additionally, America’s OneStop offers information on employment trends and salaries, private and government employers for various career fields (through its Employer Locator), job search tips for specific audiences like veterans and jobseekers over 50, and other excellent resources. 

For an in-depth look at Career OneStop, please click here.   We hope you find this broad resource useful in meeting your career goals.  If we may provide additional one-on-one assistance, please schedule an appointment via the Career Services online appointment scheduling system.

Written by Career Services Director Lisa Cook

Career Website of the Month: BridgeStar.Org

Are you looking to pursue a nonprofit career and don’t know where to start?  BridgeStar.Org is an excellent website for job transitioners interested in the nonprofit sector:


 We recommend this site because it offers:

  • a top-notch job bank for nonprofit leadership positions and a listserv where you can sign up to receive job alerts for current job openings;
  • tips on how to adapt your resume to a nonprofit job search and quality resume samples for nonprofit careers;
  • professional advice and career stories shared by leaders who successfully transitioned into the nonprofit sector;
  • job search and networking strategies specific to the nonprofit world;
  • links to additional resources, including top nonprofit job boards and a free online e-book by another popular site, Idealist.Org:  The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers:  http://www.idealist.org/info/Careers/Guides/SectorSwitcher

If you’re pursuing your MPA, PPA, and/or are interested in a nonprofit leadership career, don’t miss this valuable site!

 Written by Career Services Advisor Dina Bergren

Where the Jobs Are in the Federal Government

Do You Know…

Where the Jobs Are in the Federal Government?

Good news!  The U.S. Federal Government is hiring and you can find out the inside scoop by visiting: www.wherethejobsare.org.

 To better inform potential job applicants about available opportunities, Where the Jobs Are presents the results of a survey conducted by The Partnership for Public Service highlighting the federal government’s most critical hiring needs.  The study predicts that by Fall of 2012, the federal government will hire approximately 273,000 new employees.

This informative website provides key information, such as:

  • Where the Federal Government’s most urgent hiring needs are.
  • Hiring projections by government agency and occupational field.
  • Tips on finding and applying for these job opportunities.
  • Key background and Best Places to Work on dozens of agencies.
  • Hiring incentives, such as student loan repayment, special internships and scholarships offered by some agencies.

 Take advantage of this useful, comprehensive website to get a step ahead of the competition, and feel free to schedule an appointment with Career Services for assistance with putting together your application materials.  Also, we hope you’ll view our “Navigating the Federal Hiring Process” webinar archived under “Career Webinars” in our Career Lecture Series.

Written by Career Services Advisor Nicolle Skalski