Early Career

Balancing Life with your Partner and B-School (Learned the Hard Way)

Erin Nusbaum Rehm Forté Fellow

Erin Nusbaum Rehm
Forté Fellow

I have made many mistakes along the way, but here are my 5 tips for balancing my personal life with graduate school.

Be honest on how long that project will take. I can’t even recall how many times I texted my husband saying I would only be at school another hour or so while crossing my fingers that it would actually happen this time. Team projects take time, and sometimes lots of time. It is best to give them a realistic (perhaps even conservative) time-table. Even if you finish 5 minutes early, it is icing on the cake!

Include him or her in the social activities. It is really easy to get enveloped by the MBA program and operate in the MBA bubble. Including your partner (this goes for outside friends too) in all social events early on ensures that they too become part of the crew. And hey, they get the better end of the deal, since they get all of the social fun and have to do NONE of the work!

Set aside dedicated time every day for each other. Confession: I am in a full-time one-year program and there are many days where my 7pm-9pm commitment with the husband cannot be honored.  But just having that time ear-marked for dinner to talk about things OTHER than your program (gasp!) means that you care and are capable of single-tasking (double gasp!) Again, as somebody who has to be doing 54 things at once, this is a challenge.

Don’t forget that they have lives too. This may sound silly, but once you meet all these new people and have all these new great experiences, it is easy to overlook the fact that they too have interesting jobs, friends and family that sometimes need attention. Again, not rocket science.

Make a budget together, and stick to it 75% of the time. Chances are if you are the one in school, your partner is likely working. Hard. To support you. While this is a pretty sweet deal for you, this may be a delicate subject for them, especially if they feel like they are bankrolling a two-year “networking” fest. Making smart substitutions, like packing a lunch and making your own coffee will give you a little more leeway when you want to hit the happy hour circuit on Thursday at 4pm.  Now and then, the two of you should treat yourselves sometimes for being so frugal and responsible. Go ahead, order off the adult menu! Get separate plates at the buffet! It’s crazy how much you appreciate a nice dinner out when you only get one every couple of months.





Erin Nusbaum Rehm
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2014
Goizueta Business School (Emory)

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