Being a college student can feel a little overwhelming. Classes, homework, exams, extracurricular activities, and a part-time job – to say nothing of a social life – can quickly add up to a much busier schedule than the one you had as a high school student. Throw in an internship and now you’re expected to fulfill significant professional obligations, too.
So, how do you manage a busy schedule while impressing your internship supervisor? Let us give you a few hints.
Learn to manage your time, smartly
Don’t work harder. Just work smarter. Figure out what your biggest time-wasters are, both on the job and during the rest of your day, and then eliminate them. For most of us, it’s constantly gazing into the abyss of social media or responding to texts and emails. Put your phone away. Remaining self-disciplined should always be one of your first steps!
Start by making a to-do list and learn to tackle the big tasks at work, first. If your supervisor has given you a major project, come up with a plan and chip away at it aggressively. If you know that every week you’ll be responsible for some basic maintenance tasks that are time-consuming and ultimately, pretty boring, get them out of the way first. Do away with the procrastination that runs the schedules of most college students and professionals and you’ll be light years ahead of the competition, and you’ll free up significant time for yourself. Don't find yourself down the YouTube rabbit hole... we've all been there.
Learn to manage your stress, too
Taking care of yourself, first, is key to managing a busy schedule. Staying organized will lower your stress, leaving you with more time to do the things you love. Make sure you allow time each week for activities that keep you healthy and relaxed, whether it’s hanging out with friends watching movies, a spin class at the gym, or relaxing in one of your favorite places. Don’t punish yourself by removing those elements when you’re busiest – you’ll only distress yourself further. Prepare yourself ahead of time to succeed!
Be open with your supervisor, early
If you’re overwhelmed, tell someone. Your supervisor knows that your schedule is jam-packed, and will appreciate you providing a heads-up when things start looking tight. If you know you’re going to need a schedule change or that a deadline will be tight, talk about it sooner rather than later. These things arise in regular employment too, so you aren’t going to shock anyone – but waiting until the last minute to ask for time away from work or for special consideration will set you apart as an intern with little real-world experience. By being honest, you will save your sanity and yourself a lot of frustration.
Take a few deep breaths and remember that all your hard work will eventually pay off. Lean on those around you, and be gentle with yourself! Need to find an internship? Start with your school's career services office to learn more about internships and other opportunities.
Our Adulting Guide talks more about internships and heading into the working world.