As college students, we constantly hear about how important it is to have an internship. And if you’re a PR major like me, your professors probably tell you that you need at least three. Internships are extremely valuable. They help you learn more about your professional field, build your network, and teach you how to work in a professional environment. However, it can be very tricky to try to balance an internship with a difficult class schedule.
Most internships require you to work 10-25 hours a week. And when you’re already busy with class, studying and extracurriculars, this can seem impossible. Although it takes some time management skills, being an intern and a student is doable. Since my sophomore year, I’ve consistently held an internship while taking a full class schedule. Now, that’s not to say that I’m an expert in the matter, but I have learned how to succeed in school and in my internships.
1. Keep a schedule
My planner is my life. Honestly. It helps me balance school and work and ensures that I’ll never miss a deadline. In the beginning of each semester, I add all of my major assignments from my syllabi into my planner. I look ahead to weeks that are especially busy and make sure I finish some of that work ahead of time when I’m having a slow week.
2. Find an internship that is connected to your major
I’ve been really lucky in that every internship I’ve had has been very relevant to my major. My internships have helped me excel in my classes because they have exposed me to concepts that we later cover in class. When we cover the same topics in class, it’s a lot easier for me to understand what is going on.
3. Don’t overcommit
If you’re taking 18 credits, don’t tell your employer that you can work 25 hours a week. Be realistic, or you’re going to stress yourself out. Before giving an employer your availability for the semester, talk to people that have taken your classes in the past and see if they can tell you how much time you’ll need to spend outside of the classroom.
4. Get your priorities straight
If you’re taking a full class schedule while interning, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. You might have to bail on going out with your friends, miss an episode of “Scandal,” or put off going to the gym. I’m not saying you can’t ever have fun, but you are going to have to learn to say “no” if you want to keep up your grades and make your boss happy.
5. Let yourself have fun
Which brings me to my next point. Priorities are important, but you still need to give yourself a break every once in awhile. Even though having an internship means that you will have to make some sacrifices, having fun with friends and family will help you reduce stress and makes you a happier person overall.
Sadee Hanson is a senior studying public relations. She blogs about professional advice for the present and future. She will graduate in May 2015.
Edited by Maggie Jones