A senior lecturer shared her personal journey and the guiding principles that enabled her to obtain her doctorate while juggling work and other demands, in an effort to motivate students towards achieving their academic goals.
Dr Nur Ilianis Adnan from Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Penang, was speaking on “Killing two birds with one stone: How to juggle effectively between work and study”. About 50 people attended the online talk organised today by WOU, through its Penang Regional Centre and School of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences.
She took six and a half years to finish her Master’s degree and PhD, while busy with a full-time job, two part-time jobs, household chores and helping to care for a brother 19 years younger.
She offered 10 tips to effectively juggle work and study – family support; time management; multitask; passion; goals and motivation; enjoying the ride; it’s okay to make mistakes; supervisor; reward; and prayer.
She highlighted the importance of a strong family support before deciding to pursue anything. On time management, she told students to have a to-do list and write down everything daily, which she has been faithfully doing for 15 years. She advised students to spend at least 90 minutes a day on studies during weekdays, and at least 3 hours daily on weekends, stating that this should be adequate. She warned against skipping any day or they may lose the momentum.
Dr Nur Ilianis shared how she had multitasked during her PhD studies, using the time her students were doing assignments to jot down thoughts in her notebook. She continued, “Have passion for the course you take and your research topic.” Her own passion for public-speaking drove her to choose that as the topic of her postgraduate thesis. “When you have the passion, you will push yourself,” she added.
She encouraged students to have goals and motivation to drive them, especially in the face of hardships. Her own goal was to have a ‘Dr’ in front of her name by age 35, and she achieved this feat while in her early 30s. She gamely shared that she was motivated by the following quote – ‘Spoke to my ex after 10 years. “Miss or Mrs?” he asked. “Dr” I said.’ She suggested students set 10 year goals and then break these down to what they want to achieve by end of the year, in 3 years, and in 5 years.
“Enjoy the ride,” she remarked. During her postgraduate study, she seized every opportunity to join conferences all over the world for “networking and to equip myself with knowledge”.
Dr Nur Ilianis pointed out, “It is okay to make mistakes. Do not be afraid to get things wrong in your presentations or thesis. Take what people say, and use it constructively to improve your research.”
She recommended that students pick a supportive research supervisor, ideally finding out details before coming under his/her supervision. She concluded, “Reward yourselves when you achieve something, with a holiday or simple treat. Finally, very important is prayer and having faith.”