Completing an internship as an undergraduate student is an invaluable experience that can boost your resume, refine your communication skills, and expose you to the front lines of your area of study. In short: it’s a pretty awesome way to earn credits - or even a paycheck. However, the time commitment required by most internships can be daunting, especially when taking a full course load. How does one take on a position interning without letting his or her grades slip? What about maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and an active social life?
How To Balance An Internship With SchoolBelieve it or not, it can be done. There is definitely no short-cut or hack to having it all in college, but developing a time management strategy and sticking to it will allow you to accomplish what you want to do without sacrificing your success in school or your sanity.
Plan AheadConsider when you are willing to take on an internship so that you are able to schedule accordingly. For example, it’s a good idea to apply to positions during the summer for a fall semester in which your course load will be lighter than usual. If you pair challenging classes in your weakest subject with a completely new, unfamiliar working situation, it will most likely make for a stressful term.
Commit To One Semester At A TimeHow do you know if an internship opportunity is the right fit? It’s better to test the waters by committing to a semester versus a full-year. By the end of your first period of extraordinary multitasking, if you feel compelled to continue, you can voice that to your supervisor and they may offer you another semester, summer, or winter of work. On the other hand, you won’t have to feel guilty backing out if you would rather spend the next term focusing exclusively on school.
Designate Chunks Of Time For Specific ActivitiesPerhaps the most important aspect of time management is actually controlling how much time is allocated to each responsibility. Commit entire blocks of time in your day or week to your internship along with class, studying, and other commitments you may have. Be liberal with the amount of time you’re allocating. It's better to overestimate than find yourself rushing or crammed for time. In order to achieve this most effectively, many college students plan their academic schedules so that all classes fall on certain days, leaving two or three completely open per week to intern. The two settings will be easier to balance if they are kept separate. Cramming for an American History test at your desk in a professional office (or, conversely, responding to work emails in the middle of an Organic Chemistry lab) is an inefficient, unorganized, and distracting way to juggle your priorities. You’ll end up being incapable of giving 100% to anything you’re involved in.
Find New Ways To Increase Efficiency And ProductivityAn increasing number of career-oriented students are taking online courses to better accommodate work hours. Online classes give students the flexibility to log on to a course from virtually anywhere. Rather than shuttle back and forth between campus and an internship, online students can save travel time and put that towards working or studying instead. While interning and attending school simultaneously is a huge undertaking, all it takes is a little shuffling and patience to discover what works best for you. The skills you’ll culminate during this process will serve you exponentially in the long run and build a foundation for long-term career success.
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