Working with School

This was written by Shannon who worked for us a couple of summers ago. As you will see from the text Shannon was attending spring session as well as working for us. She does a good job of explaining the balance needed to achieve this.

I just graduated from Queen’s and have been taking courses toward my CA this summer while working at Burt’s. Each of the four courses is condensed into three weeks and I have been working around 33 hours a week. This article is meant to offer some insight into my experience managing school and the Greenhouse. It has been a very busy summer, but I would highly recommend this job to anyone interested, including those taking summer courses.

I currently have class on Mondays, Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesdays; I am working 8-9 hour shifts (usually from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. or 12 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.) the other four days a week. I was very pleased to find a job that offered so many hours despite my limited availability as I am saving money for a trip to Europe. However, accordingly, finding time to study and have a personal life has been difficult, especially after factoring in commute time and the Kingston bus schedule. There are a few things that have helped me manage my time.

First, I am an avid user of my Microsoft Outlook calendar. This helped me organize my prior commitments such as convocation and exams before I started work. Once I had figured out my availability I gave my calendar to Brian so that he could schedule me accordingly and this made life much easier for both of us. For example, it is fairly easy to be scheduled for an afternoon shift as opposed to a morning shift if you have an exam. I would also recommend exchanging work schedules with your coworkers as they may be able to switch shifts with you for commitments that arise after the schedule is posted.

During May, the schedule was posted about a week or so in advance because the Greenhouse was still getting organized. I found it helpful to plan out my studying for the week once the schedule was posted. One thing I did not anticipate, however, was the fatigue I experienced from being on my feet all day, often moving around flats of plants and hanging baskets. Some nights that I had planned to study I came home too tired to do school work. Since I know that I work better in the morning, I have begun going to bed right after I come home and waking up earlier to study before my shifts.

I have also started studying more on the days that I already have off for class. This is ultimately more efficient as well because it reinforces material soon after it’s taught which is especially helpful with the condensed course format. Finally, strategies such as bringing my notes on the bus, doing my grocery shopping at the Food Basics beside my location after my shift, and grabbing dinner or going to the gym on my way to or from work have also helped me to save time.

In a nutshell, I think this is a great summer job. The Greenhouse has piqued my interest in gardening and I’ve also been able to experience the notorious Kingston summer by working outside. Managing school and the Greenhouse is challenging, but absolutely doable. As long as you are fully aware of the commitment involved and upfront about communicating your availability, working at Burt’s presents a rare opportunity to learn something new while earning respectable summer wages and completing courses.

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