Being an intern is a valuable and rewarding experience, but balancing work, school and a personal life is more difficult than you think. Part of being an intern is learning to manage your time and prioritize your work so everything gets done, but also to keep your sanity. Don’t think your life will be rainbows and sunshine while working and finishing up your degree.
That being said, being an intern and learning from professionals while finishing your degree is arguably the most valuable thing you will do while you’re in college. I have learned more in the first month of my internship than I ever could have in a classroom. The reason? I’m engaged with what I am doing. The context of what I am learning is determined by me and how hard I want to work.
Professionalism, work ethic and self-reliance are essential in an internship. No one is going to sit there with you and hold your hand after he or she gives you a project to work on. You can’t go back to people over and over with minor questions, so think on your feet and learn how to find the answer yourself. If you can’t find it, ask another intern; if the intern doesn’t know, check Google; and if you can’t find it on Google, take initiative and do it the way you think it should be done, then ask for feedback. You’d be amazed with how far a little initiative will go.
Finally, learn how to unplug. As PR students, we are taught to always know what is going on. For most of us, that means being plugged into the pulse of social media. The way I decompress is by turning my phone off (not vibrate, not silent, but powered off). Let your friends know if you must, but turn it off and go for a run, or a hike, or anything to get yourself outside and moving. Clearing your mind and relaxing in your off time will allow you to get the most out of the learning experience without burning out.
Here is a list of tips for balancing work and your personal life from WebMD.