A Glimpse of How I Manage My Two Degrees Plus Part-Time Jobs

The Inspiration and Time Management Skills of An Active Working Student With a Voluntary Heart

Friday 2nd March 2017

It’s the middle of the midterm weeks at Chulalongkorn University. The time when the Facebook News Feed of many Chula students are cluttered with #midtermcrisis and other similar hashtags expressing tiredness from the workload.

Many posts express feelings of overloading chapters and slides to read. Many posts express feelings that the amount of assignments during these midterm weeks are way too much, leaving not enough time for serious midterm revision. Many posts express guilt of procrastination and fear of the consequences. Many posts question the work-life balance of students, expressing that the amount of workload is way too much for students to have time to gain experience outside the classroom.

Not enough time for voluntary activities, not enough time for social activities, not enough time to work part-time or freelance, not enough time for leisure and relaxation, the education system of Thailand and other Asian countries is affecting work-life balance of students – these are some of the prevalent contents that Chula students post on Facebook.

A 21–year–old Cambodian exchange student offers a different perspective of work-life balance from his voluntary heart.

“At my university, there are lots of opportunities for you to get yourself to volunteer in any program and any event. So, I just like doing volunteer like back last few years, I did a lot of volunteer works. At the same time, I also work part-time to support my daily spending,” says Sophanna Roath (Phanna), an exchange student at the Communication Management International Program at the Faculty of Communication Arts of Chulalongkorn University last semester from August to December 2016.


Back home in Cambodia, before coming to Chula, Phanna volunteered to be a Cambodian Administrator of the ASEAN Youth Organization from March 2013 to December 2015 while participating in smaller voluntary events during his weekends. At the same time, he was working on 3 simultaneous jobs as the Facebook Page Admin of Nescafé, Tous Les Jours, and Hot & Cold Café while being an occasional freelance English-Khmer translator. Meanwhile, he is enrolled in two Bachelor Degrees, a full-time program at the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh and an evening program at the Department of International Studies of the Institute of Foreign Studies.

“I don’t know how to say, but (laughs) I still find myself have a lot of free time,” was Phanna’s instant response when asked about time management techniques. “I still can go to the places that I want to go. Not so busy. Like now, I still have time for you guys to interview. It is about your priority. Prioritize.”

Phanna describes his typical week of planned schedule for his simultaneous responsibilities. “You know, my two degrees require me to study from the early morning till night, till 8 p.m. every day till Saturday, so mostly I have done some small volunteer work during the weekend, like Saturday afternoon or Sunday the whole day. I still have some time to do the volunteer work for some events, small events, like scholarship sharing and stuff. For the work, whenever I have a short free time, I can do it. Like, be fast to create contents or schedules the posts during the day. I take some time to look at it and what to post for the other day, but most of the time, I already plan it at night. So, for the contents, I don’t have to work on it everyday – I only spend a night to work for the whole week.”

Phanna said that his main inspirations for volunteering are to help people and to learn teamwork and communication skills beyond the classrooms.

Phanna shared his accomplishments during his ASEAN Youth Organization volunteer service, which he was the Facebook Page Admin for Cambodia and a team member for local voluntary projects. In late 2015, his volunteer team wrote an official proposal to raise funds through media coverage and public donation to help flood victims, successfully helping 50 families. The ASEAN Headquarter awarded Phanna with a “certificate of outstanding work” and invited him to attend the conference at the ASEAN Headquarter.

“It was wonderful because it was my first time to travel abroad by being sponsored by a big institution. To join the conference, it was my first time, I was so excited. I also visited the ASEAN foundation. I also visited the Japanese Embassy there. A lot of big institutions to represent about my team as the ASEAN Community Facebook Page. It was a wonderful experience,” said Phanna.
Despite his tight schedule, Phanna has been able to contribute academically and socially in his studies, impressing his classmates and lecturers.
“Phanna was really helpful and understanding. He is the life-saver of the class. He is smart. Whenever we have a test, he always helps us with reviewing. At the same time, he is very cheerful. When someone is so stressed, he tries to cheer that person up by talking to the person. Then, he tries to make jokes so that the person can laugh” said Sopheakpanha Sok (Pan), a classmate of Phanna in Cambodia and a current exchange student at the Communication Management International Program of Chulalongkorn University this semester from January to May 2017.

“I think he is very open. Most of the exchange students stay with their own group, but Phanna is not shy to approach us or talk to us, so I feel like he is very open to learn about other cultures,” said Monnut Boonmana (Nut), a fourth year student who worked on a group project with Phanna throughout the semester. “He shares insights from his perspective and culture to our group projects, so it’s good to have him in our group,” Nut added.

“I have a very positive memory of Phanna. He was particularly active. In general, his image in my head is somebody who is willing to participate and take action. [He is] a lot more active compared to other foreign students,” said Mr. Massimiliano La Franca (Ajarn Max), an adjunct faculty lecturer with 8 years of teaching experience and over 20 years of expertise in marketing and strategic planning.


“He [Phanna] is a thinker. He is not going to be the first person who talks in the class, but I knew he was thinking along, so I tried to make him more expressive, so people could understand him through values,” said Ms. Narudee Kristhanin (Ajarn Poom) who analyzed a different side of Phanna as a shy introvert when studying a course that is not his expertise. Having similar lifestyles, Pan complimented Phanna on his effective time management of responsibilities and work-life balance.

“Phanna and I have some similarities, we like to study hard and we party hard, we really like clubbing and dancing. I think he likes swimming. Whenever we travel to provinces, whenever the hotel has the pool, he always swims. We were both journalists. We actually both worked on a lot of voluntary activities. He has his own book, like we bought the same book, same planner.”

Written by: Chanapa Itdhiamornkulchai (Build)


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