Erick Estrada

Erick Estrada plans to teach kids. When he isn’t studying he enjoys working at Panda Express, relaxing, and spending time with friends.

Erick balances work and classes at Iowa State

Erick Estrada started to consider a career in teaching after a teacher in seventh grade said he’d make a good one. From there, he enrolled at DMACC where he started to work 45 to 50 hours a week at McDonalds to pay for school.

“I’m paying tuition out of my own pocket,” he said. “Which is why I work so hard.”

When he transferred to Iowa State in the fall of 2015, Erick continued to work as many hours as possible. He attempted to balance 50-hour work weeks and classes, but realized it was getting to be too much—especially with a management position. Instead, he sought out a job on campus that would allow him to work around his school schedule and offer flexible hours. He recommends other working students do this too.

“Focus more on school,” he said. “If you need extra income then work around your schedule, but school comes first.”

Erick found a job as a crew member at Panda Express inside the Memorial Union. Here, he can work for a few hours in the morning, attend classes, and return to work in the evening. He spends a lot of time working, but with a much more manageable 30 hours, he’s been able to focus on his studies too.

Erick said that even though the balance is hard, he knows it will pay off in the end. He also sees it benefiting his future career as an educator.

“It’s a little bit of a struggle, but I enjoy it because the harder I work the more knowledge I gain,” he said. 

Since he started in the fall of 2015, Erick gained valuable knowledge and communication skills. Skills he intends to apply in his future classroom.

“It’s helped improve my communication skills with people,” he said. “Plus, it’s helped me to control my temper, and not let emotions get the best of me. I can remain calm in stressful situations, which are sure to occur in a classroom setting.”