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How to Balance College Coursework and an Internship

How to Balance College Coursework and an Internship

Life is a balancing act of relaxation and goals, which is especially true for college students. You work hard to accomplish everything that you want to achieve while also attempting to avoid burnout. It’s a challenge. So, what happens when you throw an important internship into the mix? 

In this article, you’ll learn tips on how to balance college coursework with an internship. The latter is often as important to your future career as your education. Take a deep breath and delve into ways to improve your work/school balance, focusing on crushing your goals for both. 

Create a Schedule that Compliments Both Education and an Internship.  

For starters, let’s call an internship what it is… work. To find a balance between education and work, the first step is to pinpoint your needs. 

- What does your internship schedule look like? 

- What is your prospective college courseload? 

- How much time do you plan on devoting to both your education and internship? 

- What are your other responsibilities, and how will you make time for them? 

- Do you have a timeline for when you’d like to graduate and enter the workforce? 

From there, communicate your needs to someone that can help, like a trusted counselor, professor, and intern advisor. Give them the answers to the aforementioned questions and let them help you work out a schedule that would suit your specific needs both as a college student and intern.  

What you are looking for is an education and work schedule that doesn’t lead to burnout. Sure, you’re going to get tired. You can even expect some degree of frustration and exhaustion from having to balance and work so hard. But there’s a difference between hard work you can handle and a disastrous situation that leads to failure across the board. 

  • What are Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals? 

Time management is essential to the positive balance of an internship and your education. While an internship is meant to further your education in your chosen career field, there are still classes to attend to learn even more about what you want to become. 

You can put your schedule into better perspective by pinning down your long-term and short-term goals. One long-term goal is, of course, to graduate from college, but how long do you intend to attend classes? If your intention is to graduate as soon as possible, then spending more time earning credits would take precedence over spending more hours working an internship. You can still do both, but your priority would lie with college first. 

Need help thinking up your short-term and long-term goals? Write them down! You don’t have to keep them running through your mind. It may be easier to organize your time and find balance if you can literally see your prospective goals. 

  • Leave Some Free Time for Self-Care and Mental Health! 

Burnout is a real struggle for college students, and it can have severely negative impacts on your mental health. If you feel depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, it may be time to take a step back and rest from your responsibilities. 

But you don’t have to wait for burnout to invest in self-care. Good mental health reins over anything else, so be sure to leave free time to spend time with friends and family, do what you love, and rest between bouts of hard work. 

Your goals will still be there after a much-needed hot shower, hearty meal, and long nap. Make time for yourself. 

Need more ideas on how to unwind between classes and your internship schedule? See below for suggestions to stir your imagination! 

- Create a relaxation playlist to soothe your senses whenever you feel stressed or near burnout. 

- Stretch and use the quiet time to meditate. Clear your mind off whatever stresses you, breathe in deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. 

- Make or buy your comfort meals. Hearty stews? Delicious pastries? Something bready, chocolatey, and yummy? Savor something that you love to release endorphins through your nervous system. 

- Spend quality time with a loved one. Whether it’s a close friend, romantic partner, or family member, the people we love help us feel calmer. Simply being around them could bolster your Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that makes you happy. 

  • Be Realistic in Your Work and Career Goals. 

Working all of the time is unrealistic and makes for one unhappy person. To maintain a positive balance as an intern and college student, you should be realistic in what you hope to accomplish. The average bachelor’s degree in any career field can be completed in four years, which is a good timeframe that takes work and self-care into account. 

Those that try to cram education and work into a shorter timeframe are usually met with detriment to their mental and physical health. So, when setting your goals and planning for your future, think realistically about how you want to achieve those goals. You can work hard and still enjoy life outside of education and a career. 

  • Look for Internships Supported by Your College or University. 

Some colleges and universities offer internship opportunities both on and off campus. If your career field is in education, you may find work as an assistant to one of the college professors. Virtual internships are also available, where you can work through the college website to gain comprehensive knowledge in your prospective career field. 

There is a wide range of career fields to pursue, so check out message boards and college pin boards for internship opportunities. You could also schedule an appointment with the university counselor to learn more about your internship options on and off campus. 

While work and school can feel like a constant tug-of-war, it’s important to remember to take a step back every once in a while. Don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed by the balancing act of your education and future career. Instead, use the tips above to develop a sense of what works best for your mental health and schedule.
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