Exactly 6 months ago, I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, with two suitcases and a curriculum that would guide my life over the next couple of years.

The first half-year of my MBA journey has been both an adventure and a learning curve. From finding a balance between my studies and my full-time job to finding a support system, here are three tips for setting yourself up for success in a hybrid MBA, DBA, or PhD program.

Tip 1: Establish a Structured Study Routine

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Establishing a structured study routine is essential in setting yourself up for success in a self-paced, hybrid MBA. There are a few things to consider when setting up your routine.

First, are you working part- or full-time while you pursue your degree? This will typically take priority as you are responsible for continuing your job while you take classes. In my case, I still work full-time while pursuing my MBA, so it was imperative to have a clear understanding of how I wanted to structure my days.

In the beginning, I tested out different schedules to see what would work for me. It is extremely helpful if your business or employer can give you the flexibility to try different schedules. In my case, since I live six hours ahead of the majority of my colleagues, my workday technically starts from around 14:30 to 23:00. When I first arrived in France, I tried these hours, but I didn’t like working so late at night, so I shifted my workday to start at around 12:00 and end around 20:00. This gives me the freedom to do errands in the mornings, while still leaving room for course readings or writing papers before noon.

This schedule can sometimes be shifted even earlier in the day, which can be extremely helpful if I want to work on something without being bombarded with emails while it is still quite early in the EST zone.

No matter how you choose to structure your days, it is crucial to be transparent with your colleagues so that they know when you are available and when you will be harder to reach.

Tip 2: Stay Engaged with Your Peers

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My second tip for succeeding in a hybrid higher education program is to be engaged in a community of your peers. In a traditional, in-person business school, students are constantly with each other in classes and around campus. However, since the students in my program at ISM live all around the world and take most of their courses á distánce, it is important to put in extra effort to stay involved with each other and feel a part of a community.

This can be in the form of discussion boards in the online class portals or in group chats with your classmates.

I was lucky enough to find a great group of women in one of my in-person classes in Paris who check in with each other from time to time. There are also a few other people whom I check in with every once in a while to see how classes are going, and they do the same for me. It has been motivating and helpful to have a small support group of people in a similar situation as me.

In the event that my school has in-person meetups such as networking events, it is always nice to have options nearby where I have the opportunity to meet even more of my online peers.

Lastly, check to see if your school has an online directory of students. On my student portal for ISM, I can access a directory of current students and alumni, which shows their home country and industry. This is a great alternative to in-person events since I can easily network with someone if I see that they are in a similar industry.

Tip 3: Making Time for Self-Care and Well-Being

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Making time for a full-time job, an MBA program and a personal life is a tricky balancing act. It can be very easy sometimes to steer far in one direction of the triangle and neglect a huge part of the experience of doing a hybrid program.

In my case, one of the main reasons for choosing the IMBA program at ISM was to be able to live in a place like Biarritz (link blog). However, between a full-time job and MBA coursework, it can be easy to forget and take advantage of the fact that I have the beautiful beaches of the Basque Country in my backyard.

In the last few months, I decided that no matter how busy I am at that moment in time, I can take 10 minutes to step outside and watch the sun disappear under the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean. Something so simple can make a huge difference in the long run, especially when all my responsibilities pile up, and it can feel very stressful to manage all my coursework and my job.

Taking time to contribute to your well-being is not just something that sounds nice; it is beneficial in business and is actually encouraged by my program!

The last six months have completely exceeded my expectations. With these lessons in mind, I am excited to see what the rest of my time in the ISM program will hold for me.

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