The ideal time to land an internship position is during summer break when you are not in session. However, depending on where you are and the course you are taking, interning in college may be pretty difficult.
So when the opportunity comes, you have no choice but to take it, even if it is during the school calendar when you are required to be in school.
Managing coursework and interning can be difficult. Many students have attempted it and felt like they were losing their minds. Successfully interning in college requires planning, strict time management, good communication, and respect for downtime.
Read on for 7 tips to help you manage your coursework while interning in college.
1. Plan Ahead
2. Psychological Preparation
3. Time Management
5. Have your priorities straight
6. Commit to one semester
7. Downtime is essential
8. Interning in our times
Some personalities are sticklers for planning, and others just prefer to take life as it comes. Whether you fall in the former or latter category, it always helps to try and align as many aspects as possible, even before embarking on the internship.
Here are some ideas of how you can get your ducks in a row to manage your coursework better while interning in college.
Think through your courses. If you plan to take an internship next semester, make a point to take a lighter course load to reduce demands in terms of assignments and study time during the internship. Also, make a point to avoid those highly challenging courses for the semester.
Where will you be interning? If you choose among several organizations, take one close to your school or home. This will help to reduce your commute time to and from work.
Consider Work Study: Most universities offer work-study opportunities, which could count as internships. If commuting is a challenge for you, this is ideal for avoiding long, tiring commutes, especially if you live on campus.
Interning In College Requires Psychological Preparation
With planning comes psychological preparation even before you start. Few or none of us could claim to have breezed through our internship periods. More so if you were trying to manage your coursework while interning in college.
Regardless of the kind of work you are doing, there is a challenge that comes with the first-time experience, great multitasking, pressure to perform professionally, social anxiety… the list could go on and on.
You can’t say you didn’t see it coming.
You are likely to have many early mornings and late nights catching up on assignments and some Friday nights spent at the library when you would ordinarily be out having fun with friends. Then you will likely deal with a nasty colleague at work who doesn’t like you and then make one or two blunders on a work assignment. It is all part of the process.
This is why it is necessary to prepare yourself psychologically. Brace yourself for a challenging few months, so you don’t wake up one day and wonder what hit you.
Time management refers to the processes of organizing and dividing your time wisely between tasks and activities. Proper time management is perhaps the most crucial way to manage your coursework while interning in college.
Up to this point, you have had relatively easy schedules, most of which have been structured for you. Now, you have to structure it for yourself with limited time, keeping in mind that you must do it right.
Create a schedule
The secret lies in creating a personal schedule every day, incorporating everything that needs to be done. This typically includes work, class attendance, assignments and study, and even commute time.
These are a few tips to keep in mind:
To-do lists and calendars
Many people maintain to-do lists and simply check off each task when it is completed. You could choose to have one for every day or keep a standard one with necessary variations for each day of the week.
Forgetfulness is not just for the elderly.
You are bound to forget some things, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. Make use of the calendar app on your phone to remind you of commitments that may slip your mind.
Use ‘idle’ time
You probably have times in the day when you would ordinarily be doing nothing (or nothing particularly constructive.) If you ride the bus or train to work every day, carry some school books and catch up on some reading. If you drive, perhaps audiobooks will come in handy.
Communication is vital in many situations, and balancing school and an internship is one of them. It is essential to communicate to your professors that you are also undertaking an internship. This is not to permit you to slack off on your assignments but making them aware in the beginning makes it easier to deal with any challenges that may arise in the semester.
Also, make a point to keep your bosses at work informed by sharing your class schedule from the beginning of the semester. This way they know when you are not available because you have to be in school. They can plan work assignments and projects assigned to you around these timings.
Ask for time off
If you have a heavy project at school or have finals approaching, ask for some time off. Most superiors won’t mind letting you take some time off, whether to study or just take a little free time to clear your mind and relax before sitting exams.
Your friends matter too.
Your professors and bosses are not the only important people in your life. Don’t forget about your friends. You are a social being, so the strain on your social relationships could also cause you a fair amount of stress.
This is why it is also essential to let your friends know that you haven’t ditched them. You are just having a busy semester and may not be available as often as usual. You will want to go back to your friends even after a few months of juggling.
Have Your Priorities Straight
It may sound cliché, but many people can attest to moments of confusion when they had to take a step back and remind themselves precisely what the top priority should be for an intern juggling school and work.
It has been two months since Tracy landed a to-die-for internship at a local corporate. Juggling the two hasn’t been easy, but she has managed to get by. Now she has an opportunity to join a couple of her colleagues on a week-long trip out of town. It is bound to be a great learning experience and lots of fun with colleagues, but going would mean missing classes all week and a mid-term exam at the end of the week. Should she go or not?
At the end of the day, school comes first. If you are faced with a decision where you have to choose one, your school should always come first.
It helps to clear this out in your mind from the very beginning. This way, whenever you are faced with a situation where you have to choose one or the other, it is a no-brainer. You don’t even need to think about it. You choose your school.
Commit to One Semester
To fulfill course requirements.
The standard internship period is a single semester. Some could last six months or even a year, but this is the minimum period. It is within this time that the goals of the internship are considered to have been met.
If your professor needs to visit you at work and have a consultation with your supervisor, there will be ample time for that to happen. It is also sufficient time for you to earn the credits attached to an internship at your institution.
On the personal end
On your end, the duration of a semester may be as much juggling as you can take. If that is the case, you will need to take a break or go back to the more manageable school-only schedule.
A semester is also all you need to determine if the job is something you enjoy enough to pursue further. If you like it and your supervisor agrees, you can commit to another few months of work.
Downtime is Essential While Interning In College
Late nights, early mornings, activity-filled days. These will undoubtedly take a toll on your body battery, and it is necessary to carve out time to recharge.
Burnout is real, and it can happen to anyone. Coffee can only keep you going for so long. Before long, you will be an exhausted zombie with no creativity at work and no ability to focus in class or on assignments. Such exhaustion could make you perform poorly in both school and work.
Include rest time in your schedule and guard it fiercely. Don’t agree to put in a few extra hours at work at the expense of rest.
How to unwind
If you are utterly exhausted, perhaps the first thing you need to do is sleep. It is the ideal way to switch off in a world that is always on. That could be in the form of a good night’s sleep, sleeping in, or grabbing an afternoon nap.
However, sleep is not all you need to relax. After that, you can opt for any one of a variety of activities to relax. Here are a few to consider.
– Watch a movie or tire out Netflix for a day
– Spend some time out with friends and family
– Sports and physical exercise
– Meditate and journal
These are just a few ideas. The point is to find what works for you and do it. Never allowing that little voice in your head to convince you that downtime is wasted time. It is an investment.
Interning in College in our Times
These are all useful ideas that interns have used for years. However, we must consider the effects of the colossal blow dealt on the corporate world after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home has become the norm, and there is a good chance that your internship position will require you to work remotely.
Interning from home
How should you go about working an internship from home?
Create your home professional environment
Set up a workspace such as a desk in a quiet part of the house. Make an effort to dress professionally and sit down at your desk at the exact time you would sit down at work. This helps you get into a work rhythm and mindset.
Communication is different when working remotely. It is often through chats, emails, phone calls, or video calls. Find out how your supervisor prefers to communicate. If it is through video calls, for instance, schedule them regularly.
Be sure to have an agenda before every call to keep it structured and fruitful. You could send your agenda to your supervisor ahead of time to help him better prepare for the call.
Cut yourself some slack
If you are having a tough time figuring out a remote internship, don’t beat yourself up too much about it. It does take some getting used to.
Professionals who have been working for years are still fumbling with the concept, so you can accord yourself some understanding considering there are many other things you are learning at the same time.
Interning in college is no easy task, but that is not to say you cannot do it. Many have done it successfully, and there is no reason why you can’t. It does take a good amount of planning, whether before commencing the internship or during the busy months of juggling.
Brace yourself for a fun but challenging couple of weeks and make a point to communicate everything that is going on to significant parties around you. Commit to the minimum allowable time and have your priorities clear well before taking it all on.
Don’t forget that rest is absolutely necessary. A bit of fun with friends on the weekend is recommended.