The Overachiever’s Guide to Balancing School & an Internship

Have you ever heard from an employer that they are going with someone “with more experience,” even for an internship or entry-level job?

It is increasingly difficult to land any position, especially those at big companies, without having previous experience in the same field. Internships become even more important when your major in college does not completely align with the position you’re applying for.

I can speak to this as a Philosophy major in college, which does not immediately translate to any professions (unless you count “philosopher” as one). In my case, because I have done five internships, my experience becomes more important to the hiring decision than my education.

The more internships you have, the more experienced you are to hiring managers. Now, summer is a great time to do internships since you don’t have classes, but if you are up for the challenge, internships during the academic year are a great way to expand your experience and network. Here is a quick guide to ensure that you stay on top of both school and work.

findspark school internship

Photo courtesy of Mike Rohde on Flickr

1. Have an organization system (and use it)

The first step to make sure that you don’t forget anything, be it your midterm paper or your best friend’s birthday, is to put all of them on your calendar. There is a smorgasbord of calendar systems out there, from good ol’ pen-and-paper planners to the latest to-do apps, so just choose whatever works best for you.

The key is to have all your deadlines in one place and to keep them up-to-date. A nice perk of using a calendar app, such as Google Calendar, is that you also have the option to set reminders before a deadline is due.

findspark googlecalendar 2. Consider virtual internships and/or classes

You may not be able to take all your classes or do all of your intern work online, but working from home one or two days per week can save a lot of time. This is especially true if you live far from your school or office.

Generally, virtual internships are offered by smaller companies. However, even if the internship posting does not say “virtual,” when you are accepted, you can try to arrange with your internship coordinator to do some work from home. This is often easier to negotiate after you’ve interned there for a while and are more familiar with your tasks.

3. Know your limit

Perhaps your goal is to be a straight-A student and a rock star intern while having a social life at the same time (that’s the dream, right?). But sometimes reality hits hard (especially around midterms or finals) that you are not going to able to have it all. Having a calendar system allows you to see everything you have to do, but you still have to decide when and how to do them. Sometimes, it is necessary to say no to a party invite or to ask for a paper extension.

Most importantly, don’t forget to schedule downtime! It is better to have frequent spurts of downtime to avoid burnouts rather than getting sick and having to take off a week of work and classes to recover after.

Are you juggling an internship and classes this semester? Or do you plan to? We would love to hear your story below. And if you’re looking for new opportunities, check out the FindSpark job board!

About the Author

I make a living being on Facebook all day, formerly at The New York Times, now at Havas Worldwide. Talk to me on Twitter @dsmadmenlife or on LinkedIn at Dai X. Cao.

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