Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Work-Life Balance for a DePaul Alumnus: A Photo Essay

As college students, we will all be new to the world of full-time careers in a few short months or years. If you're going to lead a happy life, you're going to have to play with the balance between work and life. I found someone who has learned from experience the misery that an overly demanding job can induce: my older sister, a DePaul alumnus.

Meet Becky McConnell, 25, is the marketing department’s Local Events Coordinator for the family-owned grocery chain Meijer. After eight stressful years of 50-70 hour workweeks with her previous employer, she was anxious to make the switch to Meijer last February. She’s found that the environment and lifestyle at their St. Charles regional office is much more in tune with her work-life balance priorities. Her workweeks are closer to 40 hours now, not including the events she works.

“The perks that come with the job, like all the events I get to attend and the people I get to meet, make all the planning worth it,” she said. She also attributes her happiness at work to her flexible relationship with her boss, Regional Marketing Director Rita Spaccapaniccia. Here, Becky works a wine signing in one of Meijer’s stores with Rita and Chicago Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull.

Becky lives in suburban Lake in the Hills and works in St. Charles. This means spending about ten extra hours a week in the car commuting to and from work. “Compared to the 30 or so hours I spent in the car at my last job, it seems like a cake walk,” she says. What else helps her pass the time in traffic without developing road rage? She loves listening to music and talk shows on XM radio and her iPod.

Even though her job keeps her very busy during the week (and even some weekends), Becky emphasizes the importance that friends and family have in her life. “I’ve lost a lot of loved ones, so I think the relationships that I have now are even more precious,” she said. Here, she treads through snow with her mother at St. Adalbert’s cemetery in suburban Niles to visit her grandmother’s grave – she would have been 90 on Sunday.

Becky enjoys a bowl full of mushroom ravioli for dinner at Leona’s in the Old Irving neighborhood on Sunday evening. She loves having weekends off to wind down and rejuvenate for the next week of work. Her advice for students getting ready to head into the working world: “Sometimes you have to feel through a couple jobs before you find a good fit.”

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