Balancing work with IARc….the life of a “non-traditional”

November 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Can you spot the "non-traditional"?

Can you spot the “non-traditional”?

Not a lot of us give thought to the differences between “traditional” and “non-traditional” classification of students in our college, that is, unless you are “non-traditional” then there exists a level of realness to this topic. The commonly thought of differences between these two groups of students are age, financial dependence, family responsibilities and, what I will be focusing on, employment. As we all know, IARc can be challenging without any other outside factors intermixed. This is especially evident to those who then add a job to their list of responsibilities. I questioned a few students who manage to balance this demanding major with employment to see exactly how they cope.

Where do you work?

Tarra Cotton: I work in retail in a children’s clothing store. I am a Store Lead or Key Holder. I manage the store when our managers aren’t there, so I’m in charge of the store, money, safety, theft, associates, everything.

Tyson Lamm: ID Collaborative

Taylor Ghost: Sitzer Spuria Studios and sister company LIGHT art + design in Chapel Hill, NC. My official title is production manager. I handle design job logistics, orders as well as finishing details. I also help on the admin side of things like reporting, website, social media, etc. With smaller companies you can end up doing whatever needs to be done!

How did you get into this line of work?

Tarra Cotton: I needed a job to pay off student loans so I could get back into school and they were the only people who gave me a chance. Retail is weird like that. They don’t want you if you don’t have experience but you can’t get experience if you can’t get hired.

Tyson Lamm: School email blast

Taylor Ghost: My fiancé’s business partner worked for my boss for awhile and put me in touch with her when I was planning on moving here

Approximately how many hours a week are spent at work or working?

Tarra Cotton: It varies from week to week. Sometimes its less than 20 and most times its more than 25.

Tyson Lamm: 15 hrs

Taylor Ghost: min of 17, max 30

How do/did coworkers react when they learn of your major? Do you ever talk about school to coworkers?

Tarra Cotton: They are confused about what Interior Architecture is. I try to explain that it’s sorta like Interior Design but more like Interior Design plus. My store manager actually went to school for the same thing. I talk about school all the time, when I’m frustrated with projects, when I’m feeling a time crunch and can’t do homework because I’m working. My co-workers even ask how my projects are going or how they turned out.

Tyson Lamm: Very good, they are in the same field I plan to work in.

Taylor Ghost: They love it and ask to see what I am working on regularly.

How do you manage your time considering the demands of IARc?

Tarra Cotton: It’s hard, especially with group work. All you can do is explain when you can be there, and why you weren’t when you aren’t. It takes a lot of late nights, early mornings, and long days to get everything done. It’s not easy and most days you feel like giving up or saying “Screw it! I’m not doing anything”. But you keep going. And sometimes you have to sacrifice creativity to get a finished product. You just have to try to get as much done as you can as early as you can. Most of my work gets done on breaks between class and work, my days off but usually from 9pm at night when I get off work to 8am the next morning.

Tyson Lamm: Schedule, I work every day except Thursday after studio. I have time at work to do studio work and other class work.

Taylor Ghost: I get a lot of homework done on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as on the weekend. I try to space out late nights to maintain sanity.

Does IARc help you with any aspects of your job? Or vice versa?

Tarra Cotton: My job helps me with life in general, it’s helped me to become more patient and to hold my tongue and it teaches you to do things you don’t particularly want to do. School helps me to visualize things better at work with floor set because they give us a floor plan and we have to follow it and sometime we have to make up our own.

Tyson Lamm: Yes, it’s helped me develop my design skills.

Taylor Ghost: Of course! Because my boss is a product of this major, her work is strongly influenced by the sort of things I am learning everyday in my coursework. A graduate level materials course I took last semester was a huge help for the production detailing I do for our custom furniture.

Name the top 3 things that you feel are the most challenging part of working while in IARc

Tarra Cotton: Trying to get everything done within the time frame that you’re given. Sometimes I can’t go as far as I would like with a project because I can’t give the time I would like to give to it. So from time to time my projects may be simple or not extremely creative because I can’t explore the way I would like.
Being physically and mentally present in class or at work. Some days it’s hard to get up and go, and some days you’re there but are mentally caught up with work or vise versa. One always keeps me away from the other.
Having a life outside of work and school. IARc is demanding; one of the most demanding majors at the university. And once I’m off work I have to get straight on homework, that means no time for friends, my husband, sometimes even eating takes a backseat. That’s probably the hardest part, I barely see my husband and we live together. I don’t get out much or see my family because I have to work or complete homework.

Tyson Lamm: Managing time, priorities, & ability to utilize the CAM studio due to its hours

Taylor Ghost: I usually say “I just need more time” but I feel like the hardest part is prioritizing what needs to be done and when. I get inspired by something at work or school (or personal, like planning my wedding) and it’s hard to move from what you are currently dreaming about to something that is due. I think that’s something most creatives struggle with, and I’m certain if I focus on strategies that help me get work out faster, it will get better with time.

Contributed by Kim Wypasek [2nd] year

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