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Five tips for balancing internships and school

Five tips for balancing internships and school

The beauty of a summer internship is that you can devote most of your time and energy to the internship, since you're probably not in school. Fall and spring interns don't have the same luxury though, and often find themselves balancing a full course load, an internship, and possibly even a job. Can it all be done?

It can, if you know how to balance it all. Here are five tips for balancing internships and school.

1. Know your priorities

Before starting your internship this coming semester, know your priorities.

Give some thought to which of the two you value the most: your internship or school. They don't have to be at odds, but if you have an especially busy schedule this semester putting more time into one and less into the other may unfortunately be the case.

Knowing your priorities ahead of time allows you to not make rash decisions in the moment. You'll know if you need to cut down on hours at the internship, drop a course, or just dedicate more time to one and less to the other. Again, it may not come down to this but it's good to be prepared ahead of time, to know how to react when situations arise.

2. Be upfront about your school schedule

It's important that the company you're interning at knows your school schedule ahead of time and knows your commitment to sticking to it. According to The Intern Coach Colleen Sabatino, discussing your school schedule with your internship supervisor should be a high priority.

"Your concern over these other obligations demonstrates to your supervisor that you'll have the same dedication to duty at your internship," Sabatino wrote.

If the internship is for school credit, they will most likely respect your class schedule. If not, you may have to decide if the internship is worth missing school over. In most cases, the answer will probably be "no."

3. Schedule in some down time

It's not healthy to fill up every part of your day with school, work or your internship. As writer Harrison Kratz suggests in an article for Huffington Post, you should make time for everything, including physical and mental health.

"This might include scheduling down time in addition to your internship and classes, so you will definitely have time to relax around your busy schedule," Kratz wrote.

Having that relaxation may allow you to perform better in both school and your internship. Don't get burnt out. Schedule it in. Maybe this means a nap, a movie, coffee with a friend or even doing some exercise. Whatever gives you energy or a physical or mental break, do it.

4. Outsource your errands

If you're having an especially busy day or week with school and your internship, you'll need to cut down as much time as possible on other things to make it work. This is where outsourcing comes into play. Paying others to do your chores may sound like something only rich people do, but consider even the small ways you can outsource time-consuming tasks, suggests Jen Uscher in an article about work-life balance for WebMD.

Uscher wrote, "Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered? Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn? Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office? Order your stamps online so you don't have to go to the post office?"

You may, during especially rough days, ask for help from friends, family or a significant other. Don't be prideful. Make it work.

5. Suggest remote work, if necessary

If school and your internship have definitely clashed to the point where one or the other needs to take priority, one solution is to ask your internship manager if you can do remote work. for example, if a school project or meeting has come up during your regularly scheduled intern hours, ask if you can do your work for the day from home.

Asking to take work home will look better than just straight up cancelling. Assure them you'll be sure to keep track of how long it took you to complete it. Don't make a habit of this, though. Do it only if it's absolutely necessary.

Earning your degree and furthering your career don't have to be at odds. You can balance the two, if you're proactive and flexible.