Alas, every professional’s eternal struggle–striking a balance between their career and their home life–has hit me hard this year. I feel like I have been working non-stop since the beginning of the semester, which has not been good. I have always prided myself on maintaining good work-life balance, and I have gotten slightly off track.
I believe that I honed my ability to balance work, or in this case school, as a grad student. I would put away my reading or would stop working on a paper if it got too late into the evening. I knew I needed to get my sleep, and my schoolwork could wait. Homework was not life and death; however, if I didn’t take care of myself, the situation with my health could have been another matter.
Work-life balance is important to me, and working towards this balance (as much as is possible) is something that I value in my co-workers as well. If balance is important to you, then here are some ways to showcase your work-life balance as you move forward towards your career.
Involvement in sports
Whether it is intercollegiate athletics, club sports, or simply intramural activities, athletic involvement is an excellent way to highlight balance in your life.
Being a student is stressful, so it’s important to find ways to blow off steam. For many, sports are the perfect outlet, even though there might be some added stress at more serious the level of athletic involvement. There are positive assumptions that I make about people who engage in athletics: they care about their physical fitness, they have an outlet for managing stress, and they have good time management skills. I don’t see any downsides.
Even personal athletic achievements are great on a resume. Completed a marathon? Participated in an IronMan race? Make sure to get those accomplishments on your resume.
Hobbies and interests
A “Hobbies & Interests” section on resumes is controversial. At it’s worst, it is a space filler and pure fluff. At it’s best, it gives more insight into the person behind the resume and provides an opportunity to highlight your ability to keep some balance in your life. If you decide to add a section like this, seek feedback from career counselors and mentors.
Don’t indiscriminately list everything you like to do. One way to decide whether or not to list something is to determine if it relates to your field. For example, if you are going into public relations or graphic design, and photography is a hobby of yours, listing the hobby accentuates a related skill. Another way to look at it is to list items that speak to how you care for yourself. Again, this might include athletic pursuits, like running or cycling, and might also flow into creative endeavors, like photography or painting.
Finally, choose hobbies that make great conversation-starters. I worked with a student who listed as his hobbies being a pilot and riding a unicycle. Who wouldn’t want to ask questions about that?
Your personal blog
Here’s where it is important to tread carefully. Starting a personal blog can be a great decision. Obviously, there is always a lot of encouragement to write about topics related to your career field. However, writing about your personal interests can provide better balance in your life and, once again, showcases who you are as a well-rounded individual. Depending on your individual circumstances, it might make sense to list your personal blog on your resume (again, I would encourage you to seek feedback from staff in your university’s career center).
If I listed my personal blog on my resume and an employer checked it out, they would learn that I am active in trying new things, namely camping, that I have picked up running again, and that I enjoy home-improvement projects. Along with all of my work-related accomplishments, they would see that I value my time at home without compromising my career.
I discovered a quote last night attributed to Marilyn Monroe: “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” Keep balance in your life and choose to work with people and organizations that value balance as well. You are given this one life. Don’t spend it all at work.
Laura serves as Internship Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the office of Career & Leadership Development. In this role, Laura advises students who are pursuing internships, assists employers with intern recruitment, and supports university faculty who oversee academic internships. She also provides students with job search readiness assistance through presentations, individual counseling, and social media. Laura earned her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in French and Political Science, and she received her masters degree in Counseling from UW-Whitewater. To learn more about Laura, read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.