Balancing a Full-Time Internship with Full-Time Enrollment

It’s a concept that might seem incredibly overwhelming: juggling school, work, a social life, and sleep. Many people think it’s impossible, but surprisingly enough, it can be done and it can be done well. While it’s a lifestyle that may not be for the type B personalities or those heavily lacking in self-discipline, it’s one that can be very rewarding if done right.

This fall semester, I studied in Washington, D.C. balancing a 9am-4pm internship during the week with 3-hour classes at nights. On the nights I didn’t have class, I was in the gym staying healthy and doing a sport that I loved. On the weekends, I went out and had fun with friends, and made time for networking too. Was it easy? No. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

As life speeds up and gets busier, the need to make sacrifices grows. Whether it’s sacrificing your morning coffee to get to work earlier so you can get out earlier, or putting your phone down for an hour to get a paper done ahead of time — certain sacrifices will be harder than others. What’s most important is that you have clearly defined goals and that they are solid enough to make you want to stick to them. That will make the sacrifices and subsequent self-discipline worth it.

Is it okay to go out with friends on a weeknight when you probably should be writing a paper? Maybe once every now and then; but don’t let yourself create bad habits that are going to bring you down. Keep track of how often you’re letting yourself indulge, whether it be in social events, entertainment, or even junk food.

Sstaying on top of a busy lifestyle means it’s extremely important to manage your health as well. Eat well most of the time, allowing yourself treats now and again so you don’t spiral into a junk food binging spree (I’ve done this many times and it never feels that great afterward). Make time to exercise, even if it’s just a run in the morning or at night (and if you’re doing this outside, be safe).

One skill you’re going to want to sharpen above all else is the ability to properly prioritize. There’s a difference between what you want to put first, and what you need to put first. What you need to put first are what make up your priorities. What you want to put first are your luxuries and leisure. However, if you’re struggling with wants versus needs, you may need to take a step back and reevaluate your career path!

Lastly but definitely not least, do not forget about your mental and emotional health. This is very easy to let go of during a busy semester, and it’s even easier to collapse under the pressure and stress of a packed schedule. Know when to take the time to step out and take care of yourself, whether it’s going for a walk or even taking a day to yourself to remember what you need. Make time for the things that are important to you, like writing, reading comics, playing music or analyzing movies. It’s just as important, if not more, to take care of yourself as it is to take care of your work!

If you find that you are struggling at all in school or your internship, it’s always okay to talk to your teachers or supervisors about what’s going on. Chances are, they’ve been where you are at some point, and will have the heart to understand your situation. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Above all, establish a great support system for when times get tough. This goes for any schedule. And of course, remember to have fun! You’ve got this!

 

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