Frequent Flyer: Working on the Road

Cramped airline seats, small hotel rooms, and spotty internet – as I find myself on yet another plane on my way to yet another work trip, I begin to worry about the week ahead of me but also about what I’m missing back at school.  Balancing business school and traveling for a full time job is certainly challenging.   In the past year and half, I have completed 27 credit hours and have clocked in over 30,000 frequent flyer miles.   Here are some tips to balance school while on the road for work.

Pre-Trip Checklist

  • Check the Syllabus:  Take a look at what your classes are covering while you’re gone and the week after you return.  You will be exhausted and will not want to play catch up the moment you return.
  • Talk to your Professors:  Kogod professors understand.  A simple heads up before you leave can make all the difference, especially with that class participation credit.  I try to send my professors an email as soon as my trip is confirmed then send a reminder the week of my class.
  • Coordinate Group Project Work:  Don’t forget to let your team members know you’ll be away.  Also ask them to share their class notes with you.

Dedicating a few undistracted in-flight hours can catch you up on schoolwork pretty quickly.  Unless you are in seat 37E and 36E is reclined in front of you while 37D has fallen fast asleep.  Aim to get work done on the plane but prepare to be unsuccessful.  Getting your schoolwork done before your job responsibilities begin will bring down your stress level once you arrive.  Once I land, I find myself so focused on work that schoolwork becomes challenging.

Road Checklist

  • Charge your laptop before boarding:  While more and more airlines are providing in-seat outlets, conserving power on your laptop can make the difference between a productive flight and watching a bad movie.  Many airlines provide in-flight internet but I prefer to avoid the distractions of Facebook and Gmail.
  • Print out reading materials in advance:  While you may not be able to solve complex financial problems, you can read that upcoming case assignment while you enjoy your complimentary peanuts or a taxi ride to your hotel.
  • Large hotel room desks can be your best friend:  Create your own workspace and position your laptop, work files, text book, binder, and notes as you would at home.
  • Get out and see something new:  Working on the road can be draining.  While it’s easy to order room service and watch TV, I make it a point to leave my hotel room at least one evening.  Whether it’s eating at a local restaurant or taking a walk around the block, try to actually enjoy a bit of the city you’re visiting.

Final Word of Advance: Do it before you go
My best piece of advice for working on the road is to try not to work on the road.  Once you leave the office/campus, you never know what you will encounter.  As long as you plan in advance you can save your stress for that work project and feel confident that school is under control.

Bon voyage!

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