The internship dilemma: options for when you’re already time-stressed

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Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Today’s wisdom comes from Kim Dority, information professional extraordinaire. I know we’ve heard about the value of internships (and making time for a couple worked for me), but Kim takes the time to address some of the rarely discussed practicalities. 


You’ve probably heard it many times – doing at least one internship before you graduate will substantially increase your job opportunities after you graduate.
And, in fact, that’s generally true.

The problem is, no one tells you how to find the time to take on an internship when you may be working at least part-time, handling family obligations, and struggling to keep up with coursework.

The reality is that even under the best of circumstances, it’s going to be a challenge. However, there are some strategies that might make it a bit easier to work this extra commitment into your life. For example:

  • take an especially light course load during your internship period (translation – avoid taking an especially tough or time-consuming class)
  • make the most of a virtual internship by requesting that your hours will be flexible and can be worked around your other commitments
  • if considering an on-site internship, go for a company or library that has extended hours (rather than 9-5) so you have more scheduling options
  • see if your internship can be extended so you do fewer hours per week but over a longer period of time
  • look for short-duration internships that can be done, for example, over the holiday break while classes are on hiatus
  • consider not taking any courses during the summer semester so you can instead have the bandwidth for an internship
  • design and propose your own internship to a company or independent information professional that allows you to establish your own goals, time frame, contribution, etc. Obviously, you'd want to offer substantial value to the organization or individual, but this approach would enable you to have more control over the parameters of your engagement.

Even with these approaches, it will still probably be a stretch to juggle all of your commitments. So now is the time to let go of everything else that’s not absolutely essential.

Your home or apartment? Let it get messy. You family? Let them know you’re going to a basket-case – and not very available – for the duration. Your lose-ten-pounds campaign? Your LinkedIn profile? Your e-portfolio additions? Put them all on hold and instead focus on classes, work, internship, and sleep. Remember, it’s only for a limited time and if you can manage it, your internship’s likely to be well worth the effort.

And for those who’ve already managed to do an internship, please share your strategies for working this into your life!

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