When it comes to getting your dream job, these days, you’ll need not just good grades, but also relevant work experience. In fact, there’s more than enough information out there proving that undertaking an internship is one of the best ways to stand out to recruiters for a variety of reasons.
Not only does it provide valuable hands-on experience of what working is like, but there are plenty of other benefits too, from being a platform to establish professional networks, gaining valuable skills, as well as help you learn more about the industry you’re working in. In short, they’re incredibly useful.
However, with your hands currently tied with school, you might think there’s no opportunity for an internship. But what if you could kill two birds with one stone by taking up an internship while studying? It is possible, especially if you can lighten up your workload for the semester.
But is it a good idea though? Here are a few things to keep in mind before you set your plans in stone.
Consider your commitments
To start, how feasible is it for you to juggle both an internship and your current commitments? Above all else, you’re still a student, so ensuring that your schedule is free enough for coursework should be top priority. So if you find yourself having classes practically every weekday, it’ll be tricky to throw in a full-time internship as well.
Moreover, you might have other commitments beyond just your coursework, too. Whether it’s an extracurricular activity, an existing side job or leadership duties, it might be best not to add on more responsibilities to your plate.
And then there’s social obligations too. If you’re the type to spend a lot of time with your family and loved ones, keep in mind that taking up an internship will also cause that time to take a serious hit.
Even if you can afford the time, it doesn’t automatically mean that you can handle it all, easy peasy. Switching your state of mind from school to work to other activities can be taxing, especially if you lead a busy life. If you can’t deal with it, it can hurt your physical and mental well-being, which will end up jeopardising all your commitments!
Prepare for what’s ahead
Generally, there isn’t a one-stop shop for part-time internships in particular, but utilising the resources at your university’s career centre is still your best bet. Alternatively, you could also consider sending in speculative applications to the companies you’d like to work at.
But while applying, it’s best that you stay firm on your working conditions, such as your work hours and whether you’ll be able to work remotely. Some companies may also be flexible enough to let you take time off during busy periods (such as exams), so long as you let them know in advance and are honest about your situation.
As to how you can stay on top of your full schedule, here are a few tips to help you manage:
1. Make a schedule, and stick to it
Going into an internship while studying means that you’ll have to juggle your time efficiently. Depending on your workload, you’ll likely have to spend your daylight hours at work or school, while rushing out assignments at night, among other potential sacrifices. In short, your time management and organisational skills will be put to the test, and will be some of the biggest factors in making it work.
It can be difficult, especially at the start when there’s so much going on at once. But by planning things out ahead of time, managing your time and tasks will eventually get easier.
2. Communication is key
Because you’ll be dealing with multiple commitments at once, it’s crucial to keep people in the loop about what’s going on. And that includes your supervisors, professors, peers and loved ones. For instance, if you know that you have a string of exams coming up, be sure to let your supervisor know about your situation, and ask if it’s possible to reduce your workload. Generally, as long as you are reasonable, polite about it, and tell them ahead of time, they will usually be understanding.
That being said, that doesn’t mean that you can expect them to always bend the rules for you, whether that’s extending deadlines or giving you a pass on a missed assignment. There’s a limit to how much the other party can make exceptions for you before it just turns into you taking advantage of them.
3. Take care of yourself
Within all this hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget self-care, and if you aren’t careful, you could be on a one-way trip to physical and mental burnout, which can hurt how you perform at both work and school. So remember to set aside some time to rest and exercise. After all, you’ll need to manage not just your time, but your stress levels as well.
Do what’s best for you
It can seem overwhelming, but managing both your studies and an internship is possible once you get used to the balancing act. It could be a good way to demonstrate your time management and organisational skills to employers when you start looking for jobs.
That being said, don’t feel pressured to do so, or feel guilty if you can’t afford to take an internship while studying. Not everyone has the capacity to do so and it can be a very draining experience nonetheless, so there’s nothing wrong with putting your own needs first. There are always the semester breaks, or even after university to explore your options. What matters most is making sure your current experiences are beneficial to you, as well as your well-being.