Double Duty: Pursuing a Master’s Degree While Working Full Time 

Double Duty: Pursuing a Master’s Degree While Working Full Time 

If five years ago you told me I’d be pursuing a master’s degree at the age of 25, I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you said that degree program would be in political communications, 100% online and I’d be working full-time from my studio apartment in Washington, DC, I would have thought you were insane. When I received my bachelor’s degree in 2019, I thought that was the end of school for me, and I told everyone how excited I was to be done with school forever. Oh, how things change.  


The COVID-19 pandemic gave me a ridiculous amount of time to take a hard look at myself, where I was in my life and what I wanted my future to be. I was working at my first “real person” job post-grad, living in an apartment with my best friend, reading way too many books and trying to find the positive in every situation.  

While there was nothing wrong with my life, I realized I wanted to make a change. I was yearning to learn again, stimulate my brain and challenge myself. I could have picked up a new hobby, like knitting or bread-making, but instead, I decided to return to school. 

I started my graduate program in political communications at the University of Florida online in January 2021, just about a year into the pandemic. Even though my master’s program is 100% online – purposefully, not because of COVID – managing work, school, and personal life have the potential to be extremely challenging. Stratacomm makes it easy.  

Organizational Culture 

Stratacomm values personal and professional growth for all its staff, and learning is a core value. When I joined the company in July 2021, I was only two semesters into my grad program. My team made it clear that school should and could remain a priority for me. Ultimately, cultivating my skillset and knowledge outside of work will help me at work – and I already see results! 

In my grad classes, I’m learning so many things, including Photoshop, HMTL website coding,  developing a comprehensive strategic communications plan for an advocacy campaign,  designing online advertisements and so much more. My program focuses on real-life applications of these skills to political campaigning, advocacy and government-related professions. 

I work with three government clients at Stratacomm and constantly find myself jotting notes during class when I learn something I can apply at work. I still have three more semesters to go, but I already view many projects through a new lens and bring a fresh perspective to the tasks at hand. 

Tips & Tricks 

A master’s program isn’t for everyone. And it certainly isn’t for everyone already working full-time. But, if you’re like me, and decide to continue your education, here are some tips for working and pursuing a master’s degree at the same time: 

  • Choose a program that fits well with your academic and professional goals. 
  • Inform your team of your busy times at school (e.g., midterms and finals). 
  • If you feel stressed at school, tell your supervisor. They can help you manage work-related tasks to lessen the stress, so it doesn’t impact your job performance. 
  • Take a break from your screen between the end of the workday, classes and studying. 
  • Designate certain evenings during the week to focus on school. Leave the other nights and weekends to socialize and take care of yourself. 
  • Remember to move your body!  

University of Florida Graduate Class of 2023, I’m coming for ya! 

Maris Laughton is a senior account executive based in Washington, DC. She provides communications, stakeholder outreach and events services for government clients.  

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