Working both as a parent and an engineer

I am 30 years old, married and have two young children. I would like to go back to school. Do any of you have children? Do you think that your job responsibilities cause you to have to sacrifice your family life more than other jobs?
What about going through the program with family? I am considering going into chemical engineering or telecommunications.
posted by Lizette, Mexico City on May 28, 2014

Answer by Erin Gately

Hello,

I am an industrial engineer with a MBA and I have three kids.  I strive to find balance between home and work.  One way I have done that is to work 35 hours a week.  Those 5 hours give me some flexibility and freedom for volunteering at my kid’s school or going for a run or playing guitar.  When I was in my mid-30s my husband and I wanted to have kids.  We tried for a while and nothing happened.  Then we found out about a very cool business school (Bainbridge Graduate Institute, now Pinchot) and decided to go to school.  I ended up getting pregnant in the middle of my first year of school.  My child was born just after the second year of the program started.  I was able to take a leave of absence from work so I could focus on my daughter and business school. I got really good at one handed typing from typing up papers while holding her!  I only had one child at that time so I was able to give both my daughter and school the attention they required.  I think it would be more difficult (but not impossible) to go to school with young children.  Are they in school or pre-school?  If so, you can do your work when they are in school.  Do they nap?  That is a great time to get school work done (unless you also need a nap!)

Personally, I love school and would like to continue to learn new things for the rest of my life.  I have recently been taking some courses in Green Chemistry which relates to my job and also interests me.  Practically speaking though, school is a big expense!  I think it is important to focus on what you want to do and what schooling you need to get there.  And be sure the return on investment is one your family can afford.  Good luck with whatever you decide!

Best regards,

Erin Gately