Having been a full-time student at EUAS and employee at TransferWise for slightly over a year, I'd say managing both is hectic but worth the hustle! It's satisfying to know you are capable of handling both well! Working while studying helped me gain practical knowledge, build my network, fill up my free time and allowed me to plan my next holiday with the money I saved. I like this below pic from one of our EUAS classrooms that translates to – If you are good, you will be respected. But if you are lazy then no, whether you are a director or anyone else! - Fletima
EUAS classroom. Photo: EUAS
I have to say it gets busier with every passing semester, especially when you have to focus on completing projects, preparing for exams and working on group tasks that mark the completion of each subject in the semester. During these times, I'm holed up in my room glued to my computer and books. But if you're okay-ish at time management, able to plan and carry out your day to day activities in sync with school and work - it gets easier!
In Estonia, students can work full time and what's even better is the government allows 30 study leave days per year (20 fully paid and 10 unpaid). Most workplaces also have flexible work hours so you can attend lectures and work simultaneously.
My colleagues, classmates, and I schedule our work hours in sync with university lectures. For example, I choose to work evenings and shorter shifts Monday to Wednesday as I have classes to attend in the morning and then work either slightly longer on other days or work the remaining hours on a weekend. But the flexibility obviously depends on the workplace as some jobs require a fixed shift timing. A lot of students also work in the evenings and weekends at restaurants. When I first joined TransferWise, I had to attend training that was conducted only in the morning so I scheduled my joining dates when the university was about to break for Christmas and caught up with any missed lectures, home tasks, exams on a real time basis.
How did it all start?
I came to Estonia as a full-time student and completing my degree was and is my first priority! But having said that, I also come from one of the busiest cities in the world, Mumbai. I missed the busy life that kept me on my toes all day (I’m not sure I miss it anymore 😉). So I thought of looking for jobs! During our orientation, we were given tips and tricks for finding jobs in Estonia – what are employers looking for, job portals and examples of fellow students’ jobs. We also had one of the project managers of Work in Estonia talk to us about finding work here. We are also regularly updated about any job fairs and possible internships. I started applying for jobs that had flexible shifts and didn’t have an Estonian language requirement. Some companies that hire English speaking International students are TransferWise, Monese, Bolt, Microsoft, Studioworks, Tumlare, ABB.
But if your job involves dealing with the local labor force then a working knowledge of Estonian may be needed. Working at restaurants requires at-least A1 level in Estonian (which is not too difficult). If you’re a techie, programming languages and coding supersedes the need to know Estonian 😊
As an international student who can only speak English, Hindi and a few other Indian languages, but who has a big will to learn and thrive in a fast-paced environment, TransferWise was one of the companies I aspired to join – I mean who doesn’t want to work with a successful unicorn! Long story short, 1 written test and 2 interviews later I started working in the Business Support Team at TransferWise!
Transferwise office. Photo by: Fletima Dias
My work at TransferWise
I work in the Business Support team – which includes helping businesses with their queries on phone, via email and chat. I also work on other projects involving verification processes and quality. I felt this role was apt for me as it allowed flexible shift timing, did not have Estonian language requirement, and dealing with businesses compliments my degree in International Business Administration! The work culture, my colleagues, team lead and atmosphere are simply superb! When we worked in the office, the doggos were a special treat! Yay to pet friendly offices! Coming from a highly corporate and hierarchical organization structure in India, the flat (no bosses!) structure in most Estonian companies is a breath of fresh air!
Fletima and TransferWise office dogs. Photos by: Fletima
TransferWise has over 2000 employees and offices globally but their biggest office is in Tallinn with over 1000 employees. It is a truly international workplace with colleagues from so many different parts of the world. My team-mates alone come from 4 different continents!
There are many employees who also study full time for a bachelor’s degree, master's degree, or even while completing their PhD studies. Thanks to a great work culture, my colleagues are extremely helpful, polite and friendly. In fact, I’ve learnt a great deal of time management talking to them and understanding how they're doing it! Initially during the training period, I couldn’t plan my shifts and had to manage both – wasn’t easy then, but with time and with a lot of trial and error planning my work hours along with tips from my colleagues and classmates I’ve found my rhythm.
This is what Islam, one of our Student Ambassadors had to say about the time he worked at Tumlare: "My experience with Tumlare has been a blast. Not only was it an eye-opening period which provided me with many skills, it was also a place where I made valuable friendships. The atmosphere, the team, the managers and my colleagues, I can comfortably say that I got so much from my time there. Such a diverse group of people all working for the same cause: providing logistical solutions for travelers from all over the globe. I would most certainly go back if I could!"
My recommendations for balancing studies and work
- Time management – It may not be necessary to plan every hour of the day but setting out specific plans along with deadlines for important tasks helps. Being able to manage your time well will help you do well in your studies and work.
- Find jobs with flexible work hours.
- If possible, split your work hours during the week so on lecture days you have either no work or fewer hours.
- Wake up an hour or two earlier than usual (and go to bed sooner) – our brains are the sharpest in the morning, it has helped me work on uni stuff before the distractions of the day kick in.
- Universities have a long summer break, starting in June, and Christmas break in December – plan your date of joining a company around these times so you can attend any training without having to skip lectures.
- Find time for rest and play – you need to refuel yourself to keep going!
- Find your personal rhythm so you can balance both – work and studies. It may take some time to get this right, but once you’ve found it, there’s no stopping you!
Text by: Fletima Dias