Balancing Work and School

Updated: September 9, 2020

A non-summer internship can mean less competition and more opportunities—but it also means balancing a full course load with additional work. While many internships have set hours, noted in the role description, off-season internships are becoming increasingly flexible to accommodate students’ busy schedules. If you’re struggling to find your work/school/life balance, read on for tips to make your internship work for you.

  1. Be transparent and honest. If you foresee your internship conflicting with your class schedule, part-time job, and/or extracurricular activities, let your internship supervisor know. Transparent communication is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether it’s personal or professional. A good supervisor will respect your desire to honor your other obligations and try to find a compromise. After all, it shows that you’ll be similarly dedicated to your internship. Before you meet with your supervisor, consult the company calendar and write up a suggested schedule. By providing a jumping-off point, you’ll show that you’re truly motivated to make this work.
  2. Consider an atypical schedule. Rather than coming into the office every day, suggest something a little different. Maybe you can work longer hours and come in fewer days. Alternately, you might ask to extend your internship, so you’re doing fewer hours per day over a longer period of time. You could even investigate putting in some internship hours over the weekend.
  3. Work remotely. Remote internships are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. A remote internship allows you to save time and money (on transportation), while providing increased freedom and flexibility. If you know that your schedule’s too busy for trips to the office, focus your internship search on 100% virtual roles. Otherwise, ask the internship supervisor if you can do internet-friendly assignments, such as writing reports or posting on social media, from the comfort of your dorm room.
  4. Learn to delegate (and learn to say no). Just as your supervisor will delegate work to you, you need to learn to outsource or step away from time-consuming tasks in your life as needed. Not everything in life can be a priority, so take a step back and reevaluate where to put your efforts. Maybe you need to ask a friend to take over as secretary of your sorority for a semester. Maybe you cook dinner three times a week for your roommates and need to cut back to one. That’s all okay.
  5. Make time for you. Even if you’re balancing school, volunteering, sports, and an internship, you need to take breaks just for you. Limit activities that don’t bring you joy or relaxation (we’re looking at you, endless Twitter feeds), and refocus on making time for activities that feel rewarding. Yoga, baking, doodling, reading, or aimless wandering are all great options; just find what works for you.