Balancing Work, School, and Sanity

By Chelsea Narvaez

Stressed-Out-is-the-New-Status-SymbolWhen I went to talk to my internship advisor about receiving credit for my four days a week, 9-5 internship, he asked me how many classes I would be taking. I told him three and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Are you sure you don’t want to take just two classes,” he asked me, eyebrows raised. “You’ll still have enough credits to be considered a full-time student.”

“No, I can handle it,” I grinned, confidently.

In hindsight, he may have been right.

This semester, I work Mondays to Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm and I take a three-hour class every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night from 7 pm to 9:40 pm. I leave at 8:20 am to get to work and don’t get back to my dorm until almost 10:30 at night. It’s not easy and it’s certainly exhausting, but it can also be exciting.

I know I’m not the only student who goes through these balancing struggles. I have friends who have an internship, work two jobs, and go to school. Juggling a social life on top of that? It seems impossible. But we make it work, and I think that we’re superheroes in our own right.

There are obvious pros and cons to spending a good portion of your time doing some sort of work. Sometimes, you might want to collapse into a pile of pillows for days. On others,  you might feel super accomplished and like you can take on the world! (For me, it teeters between both.) But there are definitely learning experiences to take from this situation.

Let’s start with the cons, shall we?

  • Lack of sleep. Going to work every day is one thing, but having to fit in school and homework? There just aren’t enough hours in the day and you have to dedicate that precious time you have leftover to finishing up your assignments.
  • Lack of a social life. I’m pretty sure some of my friends hate me because I am not around at all during the day. I don’t come home until very late at night and usually am too tired to hang out. I try to make the time to at least see them, but I miss going out and not being consumed by work. And when it comes to seeing my boyfriend? I’ll be lucky to see him on the weekends. But fortunately (kinda?) for us, he is also juggling a hectic schedule, so at least it’s even.
  • Tons of pressure. In the back of my mind, there’s always an article for class I have to write, the amount of time that will take and the pressure of coming up with creative ideas for my boss. With all that bouncing around, you’re often left with a headache. But at the same time, pressure could also be a positive…

Let’s hear it for the pros!

  • Learning to deal with tons of pressure. While having a million things on your mind can be stressful, learning to cope with pressure is an immeasurable, invaluable, important quality. Once we graduate from college and our internships turn into real-world jobs, our bosses will be impressed with the way we can handle ourselves under stress.
  • Having a strong work ethic. This ties into the above, but there are many good things that come from juggling different things at once. It’s a skill that we’ll keep with us for the rest of our lives.
  • Cherishing our free time. Being consumed by professional matters makes us pay special mind to our personal lives. We are able to better appreciate our loved ones because we tend to miss them more when we’re sitting at work. Plus, it makes the time we spend more fun!

There are lots of other pros and cons, and they can be different for each person’s situation. But in the end, all the hard work, long days, and lack of sleep will really pay off in the end when we look back and smile at all that we were able to experience, learn, and accomplish.

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