After a long application season, you've finally landed the perfect internship. You'll gain valuable experience in your field, meet tons of potential mentors, and walk away with the ideal listing on your resume. Great, right? Not so fast... It's unpaid. Your summer may look like it's all nailed down, but it can be difficult or even impossible to support yourself without a steady income. Even if you can find a way to support yourself over the summer, what happens when you get back to school in the fall and realize your bank account is running low? You might want to consider picking up a part-time summer job. A paid summer job ensures you'll still have money to support, save, and spend, but it can be tough to balance work with an unpaid internship.
Find an Internship You Love
Dr. Carole Jabbawy, founder of Internship Connection, a company that matches high school and college students with internships, emphasizes the importance of finding an internship you love. “You will enjoy your summer if you carefully research the type of place that you think would be interesting. If the work is meaningful and you mesh with the company's vibe, there's nothing more exciting than getting a jumpstart on your career,” she says.
Sometimes, taking an unpaid internship offer over a paid internship or job offer can work in your favor. If the opportunity will help you get ahead in your career, it's in your best interest to make it work, even if that means turning down a less beneficial paid internship or taking on a paid job on nights and weekends to make money on the side.
Michelle King, a junior at Emerson College, agrees. Last summer, she interned at Seventeen and worked retail. “Be aware that it's going to be a struggle to balance both and use that as motivation for finding a company that you're truly passionate about, not just one that will boost your resume,” she says. “Balancing an internship and a job last summer was difficult at times, but I never once regretted it because I loved Seventeenso much.” A jam-packed summer schedule won't feel so intimidating if you're excited about what you're doing every day.
It's one thing to turn down an internship that won't teach you much or add anything substantial to your resume; it's something else entirely to turn down a dream offer because it's unpaid. Jabbawy says, "If you get an offer for a great internship, try to make it work. Look for babysitting or waitressing jobs with evening and weekend hours."
Ask around your neighborhood and talk to family friends to find babysitting jobs. Can't find any families with young kids? Create a profile on Sittercity.com, a free site that helps families find babysitters and vice versa.
If you're interested in waitressing or bartending, go to each restaurant or bar as soon as you can and inquire about job opportunities with the manager. Depending on their application process, they may ask you to fill out an application or come in for an interview. These positions are competitive, so your best bet is to apply to as many places as possible until you find an opening.
Tutoring is a fantastic way to make money on the side, especially since you can set your own hours. Do you have an eagle eye for editing papers? Can you still remember how to solve SAT math problems? Turn to Facebook to publicize your services as an academic or SAT tutor. You're bound to catch the attention of younger friends or siblings' friends who are in need of a little extra help. You can also contact your high school guidance counselor and ask to be put in touch with students in need of assistance.
If you love to be active, contact your town's youth sports organizations about coaching a sports team in your spare time. Coaching kids is a rewarding, upbeat job, which means it'll be easy to keep up your spirits while maintaining a busy schedule.
Note that retail jobs or camp counselor positions tend to have less flexible hours, so those might not be as ideal to balance with an internship.
Nail Down a Schedule You Can Handle
If at all possible, work with both employers to find a schedule that won't drive you crazy. Whether that means spending mornings at your internship and afternoons at your job, or Mondays through Wednesdays at your internship and Thursdays through Saturdays at your job, or another combination, your best bet for staying sane is to find a schedule you can cope with. For example, if you're an early bird but plan on waitressing on the side for tips, plan to pick up extra hours on weekends — not late night shifts.
When you're exhausted and worn out, you won't be able to perform your best at either job. After all the effort you're pouring into this summer, you'll definitely deserve a recommendation letter — but only if you're able to stay alert, engaged, and on top of your work! Avoid slacking on the job by sticking to a schedule that allows you to get enough rest... and, yes, that might mean taking it easy on Saturday nights from time to time.
Explain the Situation to Your Friends
Between interning and working, there's only so much room left over for the three S's: socializing, sleeping and sanity.
Two summers ago, Kali Grant, a junior at Ohio State, worked at a coffee shop in the mornings and interned at the Salvation Army in the afternoons. “It was hard to make time for a social life,” she explains. “I'd often have to be at the coffee shop at around 5:30 a.m., and wouldn't get home from my internship until around 5:00 p.m., so I was usually too exhausted to do anything with friends in the evening! When you only have three hours between last call and when you have to get up in the morning, it's a lose-lose situation—you're either completely exhausted at work the next day or you feel like you're missing out on the fun.”
Before your schedule gets too booked, squeeze in time to explain to friends what your summer is going to look like. Let them know that you're not planning on blowing them off, but your schedule is hectic and might not allow for as much free time as you had hoped for. Your friends will understand—and they might even be jealous of your rock star time management skills and career savvy!