Getting Your Degree While Working Full-Time: Is it Possible?

For anyone with a full-time job who is also thinking of getting their master’s degree, usually the most pressing question is, “How can I get my degree and work full-time simultaneously?”nate graduation

Managing a proper work-life balance can be challenging for the average working professional, so what about adding school to the mix?

Today, many employers have a tuition reimbursement program. Alongside health care, paid time off, and 401(k) plans, tuition compensation is often offered as part of a company’s benefits package.  Employees are encouraged to pursue their degrees – undergraduate and graduate – while working full-time.

At JK Moving Services we offer our employees up to 75% tuition reimbursement with a maximum of $4,000 per year; undergraduates need a grade of “C” or higher to qualify and for graduate courses, a grade of “B” or higher.

Often, money and time are the main factors preventing people from obtaining their degrees. So with your employer lessening the burden of expenses, is it still realistic — with time constraints — for someone to get their degree while working full-time?

Most recently, one of our employees proved this to be both realistic and possible.

Nate Kost, Accounting Manager, obtained his MBA while working for JK full-time and having a family.

When Kost was a student of accounting at West Virginia University, he was also a summer intern at JK. He started out on our trucks as part of a crew and made his way up in the company through the years.

After obtaining his undergraduate degree and working at JK for 9 years, he decided to look into WVU’s Executive MBA Program — a curriculum specifically designed for working professionals to obtain their master’s degree.

“When I first signed up, I thought it would be one-to-two days a week. It turned out to be just about every day of the week,” said Kost.

How did he do it?

“Everyone says there isn’t enough time during the day, so you have to create it.  For me, it’s making better use of the one-to-two hours before bed each night or even sacrificing some sleep.”

He picked a program that was mostly based online and only required students to go on-site a few times a year. “JK was very supportive,” said Kost.

Scott O’Con, JK’s Human Resources Benefits Administrator, said “for a person considering whether to pursue their education tandem to working, it is important to be realistic and ask, ‘what can I reasonably take on?’”

“You don’t want to over-burden yourself and not go to classes, and you also don’t want your job to suffer,” said O’Con.

“Ultimately, managers have an expectation that there will be no drop in (an employee’s) performance, but most managers want their employee to succeed, so they try to lend a bit of flexibility in their schedule.”

Some employers provide other education benefits, in addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees.  For example, JK has a significant base of employees for whom English is not their native language.  We offer payment toward English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.

“The company is very willing to help in the training process. We assist some of our moving helpers to get specific class driver’s license (e.g., a Class B driver’s license to drive a mid-sized truck) which helps them advance their professional career and get paid more,” said O’Con.

“The more an employee knows about their area of responsibility, the better they will be at their job.”

For Kost, he was no exception.

“There is no question, getting a master’s degree has magnified my engagement with work – it exercised my mind,” said Kost. “You get more engaged in the day-to-day goals and tasks.”

When asked about advice he would give other employees thinking of treading down a similar path, he recalled a something a professor said at his master’s program orientation:

“He said, ‘people don’t just fail out of master’s programs, they sort of just fade away.’ You will have to put a lot of focus on the program.”

JK Moving Services is always looking for passionate employees. We strive to attract and train the best employees, and provide them with ongoing career development, benefits, and a path for advancement. If you are interested in a career with JK or have questions about our employment benefits, check out our careers page.

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