How to Balance Your Internship with School
We are pleased to publish this guest post from Mandy Fricke who is a student at Brooklyn College pursing a Bachelor’s in Marketing.
Interning and studying can be challenging and overwhelming yet highly rewarding. Set yourself up for success by doing the following:
Look for internships that are directly connected to your major
Students who are looking for an internship should look for one directly connected to their major or support their longer term career goals and avoid ones, when possible, that are vaguely or distantly connected. The more students’ internships align with their studies, the more the internship will relate their coursework, which may enrich their overall learning experience.
Participate in internship programs set up by your college or university
Many colleges and universities recognize that today’s job market requires college graduates to have experience in their fields. Accordingly, many colleges and universities have established partnerships with businesses and organizations that may offer students valuable experience through internships. Such partnerships often result in the creation of internships that are more clearly structured and designed specifically for students. This can help make internships more meaningful and easier for students to manage.
Discuss expectations and set clear boundaries
Once you’ve been hired for an internship, meet with your supervisor to discuss his or her expectations, your expectations, and how your internship will be structured.
- The number of hours you will work each week
- The flexibility of your schedule
- The type of work your supervisor expects you to do
- Whether or not you can complete your school work while on the job
- How your studies and internship can and should interact with one another
In addition, meet with your supervisor regularly to discuss your work and studies and to determine whether or not the structure of your internship is setting up you and the organization for success. Make adjustments accordingly.
Set up structures to deal with challenges and breakdowns
Busy people face challenges and breakdowns. Be prepared for challenges and breakdowns by setting up contingency plans for dealing with them.
How will you get to your internship and school? What will you do if your ideal mode of transportation fails? Consider alternate routes, modes of transportation, etc.
How will you wake up every morning, afternoon, or evening? When you are busy working an internship, going to school, studying, and enjoying even a small social life, you are likely to lose some sleep. How will you wake yourself up? What back up system do you have in place if your first wake-up call fails? Consider alarms, phone calls, actions to take if you wake up late, etc.
Find resources (mentors, loved ones, books, etc.) that can help you deal with emotional and mental challenges and barriers. Let them know you’ll be counting on them and give them ideas of how they can help. Use them when you’re feeling upset, confused, or overwhelmed.
It’s important to relax, and in the midst of studying and interning, finding time to do so can seem impossible. However, taking time to rest, relax, and do something pleasurable and easy can allow you to be more effective in both your work and studies. Plan some time each day or week to relax (spend time with friends or alone, exercise, etc.). Plan this time ahead of time, and include it in your scheduling just as you do your classes, your work, and your studies.
Effectively managing your time as an intern and student takes communication and planning. Be sure to communicate with your internship advisor, as well as with your contacts at the university so they are aware of any scheduling conflicts or logistical challenges that pop-up during your tenure. Think ahead to make sure you don’t waste precious time figuring out how to get to your internship every morning, or oversleep on the day of an important meeting. Participating in an internship can be a valuable addition to your academic experience and help prepare you for the rigors of your future career, make sure you make the most of this opportunity by being prepared to face the challenges of being an intern.
Mandy Fricke is a student at Brooklyn College pursing a Bachelor’s in Marketing. She also works for Gradschools.com where she manages their online community for their online master’s programs. In her free time she enjoys biking, traveling, and reading in coffee shops.
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