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Students sitting, wearing face masks and socially distanced
ExtraMile arena classrooms, first day of fall semester, campus scenes, photo Patrick Sweeney

If you’re feeling stressed about school, but at the same time wondering if you’d be able to balance an internship and get the grades, believe me, you’re not alone. Being a full time college student is a job in itself. Adding an internship on top of that can get overwhelming. But we all know that getting professional experience is really important. It opens the door to so many opportunities and will help build your confidence so you can walk through the doors of your first job after graduation and absolutely crush it. If you’re looking for some tips on balancing the stress of an internship and school, you’ve come to the right place. You can do this!

1) Think about balance before you even start

Your mental health and happiness should be your top priorities. So if you need to cut down on your internship hours, do it! If you have to ask for extensions from your professors, do it! You want to be firing on all cylinders at school and in your internship, so prioritize yourself over anything else. Trust me, employers and professors know how stressful it is to try and balance it all. They’ll be more understanding than you think. Try scheduling downtime (like actually putting it on your calendar) and making time for your hobbies and loved ones.

2) Chat about your school schedule with your employer

Class times are usually non-negotiable, but the same doesn’t go for your work schedule. Employers are almost always willing to work around your classes, especially if you talk about your schedule needs during the application or interview process. Some types of work environments are more strict than others (ones that require you work in-person), so think about that when you’re applying for internships. If you feel comfortable, ask about working remotely. It’s a great way to get your time in if their office hours conflict with your class schedule.

3) Find a scheduling system that works for you

Whether this means actually using that calendar or agenda (I promise it helps) or making a to-do list, getting organized helps you prioritize and stay on track. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many things on your plate, but organizing all those different to-dos definitely helps. Try using your google calendar, scheduling alarms, or setting reminders to ensure you never forget those pesky little tasks that sometimes get overlooked.

4) Be as present as you can

Ever find yourself spacing out, thinking about the million things on your to-do list or just stuff that’s outside of your control and suddenly you’re almost in panic mode? Me too. Keeping focus on controlling only what’s in front of you in the present moment is a great habit to practice, and SO important in making sure your mind isn’t wandering to other stresses in your life. To do this, try changing your mindset to fit the environment. When you’re at work, think to yourself, “I’m an intern, and that’s all I need to focus on right now.” Again, easier said than done! But give it a try and see if it helps with that stress that comes with juggling work and school.

5) Have FUN

Internships are meant to give you work experience, sure, but they’re also supposed to be fun! Don’t forget to enjoy yourself, both at work and in school. This means challenging yourself, but also asking questions, getting to know people and making friends. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes and learn from them, celebrate your milestones, and remember that you won’t ever get to have these exact experiences again. Life is short! Enjoy it.

5 ½) Apply for academic credit

One last thing: try applying for academic credit for your internship. It’s a great way to knock out some credits or a class while still getting that professional experience. It’s a double whammy! Then pat yourself on the back for working smarter and not harder, Broncos.

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