How to Balance College and an Internship

Some upperclassmen apply for a part-time internship during college. The goal is to be able to add more experience to your resumé and to better prepare for the workplace that you will soon join full-time. But, having an internship while still in school comes at a cost. Students have to give up time that is normally set aside for studies, having a social life, chores, extracurricular commitments, and free time. Are you prepared to balance it all? Here are some tips that have worked for me as I try to work through a hectic student-intern life this semester.

When I got an internship this Fall, my first obstacle was outlining a work schedule to send to my employers. I immediately learned that interning is fast-paced. I had to keep up with my company's standards and policies to make a good impression. I didn’t know how strict the weekly time requirement would be, and there was only so much I could do as an upperclassman to switch my schedule around. 

And thus, I learned the power of prioritization. I was able to figure out that only taking 4 classes this semester would allow me more time for an internship. Others, however, may only look for internships with school credit, drop several classes, or prioritize their internship because they have a handle on their studies. Schedule your life based on your ability to work quickly, study under a time crunch, and the minimum amount of hours your employers require.

Setting weekly goals also sets me up for success. After I constructed a work schedule, I integrated time for school work. Assignments and their required attention vary each week, but you can predict how long they will take based on your work ethic and double-checking your syllabi. Your weekly accomplishments are not at the pace of others; they are specific to you!

In drafting weekly goals, however, you sometimes may need to cut corners to get everything done. Being a student means having limited time to do the little things. Out-sourcing menial projects like grocery shopping or chores can sometimes be a viable way to focus on your career. For example, you may want to get your groceries delivered, get dry cleaning sent to your dorm or work, or ask your friend to throw in your laundry when they are doing it. Also, you can ask your boss if you can have a remote day at home to work on an internship assignment if appropriate. But you shouldn’t expect this all the time. Eventually, you will have to be responsible and show up for everything you are supposed to do. We love the real world, don't we?

There are certain things you should get into the habit of doing when it seems like you have no time, too, like maintaining your physical and mental health and happiness. We are young and just getting an understanding of the world. Better to get a handle on a schedule now, then never at all in the future. Shower daily, and nap and exercise when you can. There are ways to properly maintain a social life, so don't think it is impossible. Grab coffee during a study or work break, or study with friends. There are ways to overlap work and play and not get stressed over finding a balance!

It also never hurts to ask for help. As cliché as it sounds, confiding in your friends and family about your stressful requirements, strengthens your relationships and brings you closer. You will feel encouraged to work harder to be a smarter student and an ambitious intern. You got this!