Balancing your college schedule with classes, club meetings, study sessions, and friends can be tough. Then, add in a part-time job or internship and your schedule quickly becomes even more packed. How do you balance being a student and an employee? Here are a few tips to help:
- Write it down. Whether you prefer a traditional agenda, a Google calendar, or your iCal, find what works for you and make sure you write down all of your commitments in one place. Another great way to stay organized is to color code each of your activities (i.e. class assignments in yellow, club meetings in pink, work commitments in blue).
- Schedule out your busiest days. Although using an agenda will keep you organized, you may want to schedule out every hour of your busiest days. This way, you’ll know what project or assignment you should be working on each hour of the day. I use the “Stickies” application on my computer, but you can also make a note on your phone or use a traditional sticky note. Here’s what a typical day of mine looked like last semester:
- Be proactive. Inevitably, you’ll have a big project for your internship and a midterm on the same day. Be sure you maintain a constant conversation with your internship (or job) supervisor so you know what tasks must be completed when. Also, learn to look over your syllabuses throughout the semester, rather than just tucking them away after your first class meeting. When you know what your deadlines are ahead of time, you can plan accordingly and spend some time working ahead when you don’t have quite as much work to do.
- Know your boundaries. An internship is a great opportunity to learn more about an industry you’re interested in and gain valuable experience in the field. Although you should try many different things and be willing to take on various responsibilities, it’s important that you know your limits. In an internship, especially an unpaid internship, you may be asked to complete tasks above and beyond your job description. Don’t be afraid to say no. Remember, your schoolwork shouldn’t suffer because you’re putting too many hours in at your internship. If you’re not sure how to talk to your boss about your limits, consider taking advice from your internship professor (if you’re taking the internship for credits) or someone at your career service center. They will likely be able to tell you how to have an informative conversation with your employer without sounding whiny or ungrateful.
The biggest secret to balancing your commitments is to stay committed. Unless you can hire a personal assistant (and your unpaid internship is hardly going to pay for that!), you have to be responsible enough to write down and organize each task, assignment, meeting, and project you are assigned. When you’re able to see each of your commitments in one place, you’ll be able to delegate your time to hit all of your deadlines and have some time left for fun and friends!
Written by Guest Blogger Abby Stollar. bby is a senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in Mass Communication and minoring in political science, political communication, and journalism. She is very involved on campus, currently serving as the president of her PRSSA Chapter, staff reporter for the campus newspaper, peer mentor for freshmen students, tour guide, and a teaching assistant. In addition, she is an intern for a public relations and marketing agency. She frequently tweets (@abbynicole1204) and blogs at http://abbystollar.com.