What it's Like to go to School, Work, and Intern!
Many of you might be students and might wonder how one can balance work life on top of being a full-time student.. Not to mention a full-time student who also wants to take on an internship.
I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult! It takes a certain kind of person. Not to doubt or say that anyone is incapable of balancing all three, because I truly believe that anyone can do what they set their minds to. But with that being said, you Really have to be ready, motivated, and most importantly, passionate.
I’m writing this post to tell you guys my experience and hopefully give you guys some insight and tips on how I make it manageable and also salvage some time for hanging out with friends and having a life!
First off, I’m a full-time student at Santa Monica College and I’m studying Interior Architecture. This is an amazing community college and I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT recommend their Interior Architecture program to anyone who’s interested in the world of interiors or architecture. The woman who heads our department came from teaching at Cal State Long Beach. She designed the program at SMC to perfectly align with what Cal State Long Beach expects from their incoming transfer students and their portfolios.
Any design student not only has a normal load of homework, but design homework requires students to devote more time.. The tasks assigned often require work to be done by hand, such as perspective drawing and rendering. It can all see overwhelming at first, but once you’ve had a few classes, you’ll be able to understand the scope of your assignments, your abilities, and your time. This will allow you to manage your homework better. Also, I think it helps to know your advantages and disadvantages! For instance, hand rendering comes more natural to me versus 3D modeling in AutoCAD. So when a professor tells us in the beginning of the semester that we’ll need to devote 12 hours a week to drawing and 10 hours a week to AutoCAD, I know that I’ll only need to devote 6 hours to drawing and that I can devote the rest of my time to AutoCAD.
I also find that writing to-do lists help me! Some people, like my boyfriend, create their lists in their phones or computers. That’s great because you have apps like the Calendar or Reminders to help you! But if you’re like me, more old fashioned, you like to write all of your lists down! The reason I prefer hand written lists is because I feel like my brain holds onto that information stronger. My theory is that handwritten notes stick in my memory better, because I hardly ever write down anything! I’m always messaging on my phone or writing on my laptop. The physical action of writing helps me get my thoughts out and I have to admit, I’m a sucker for planners! Here are some of my favorite planners in the market at the moment, because what is a lifestyle blog without lifestyle products 🙏🏻
To help you better understand my schedule, the time devoted to school and work, and how much free time I REALLY have, I'm going to lay it all out for you. My usual school load is 4 classes (will be 5 once I start at Cal State Long Beach 😩). These classes are usually split evenly throughout the week! So I’ll have 2 classes Mon. and Wed. and 2 classes Tue. and Thurs. I have a part-time job at a restaurant where I work 6 hour shifts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Yes! This means I don’t have a day off. I got that hustle! On top of that, I have an internship 3 days a week. It’s going to get a little confusing, so for the sake of clarity, I’m going to break down my schedule below:
Monday: School 9:30 - 12:30 | Internship 1:00 - 6:00 | OPEN
Tuesday: School 9:30 - 12:30 | Internship 1:00 - 6:00 | OPEN
Wednesday: School 9:30 - 12:30 | OPEN | School 6:30 - 9:30
Thursday: School 8:30 - 12:30 | Internship 1:00 - 6:00 | OPEN
Friday: Work 11:45 - 4:00 | OPEN
Saturday: Work 10:00 - 3:00 | Work 5:30 - 10:30
Sunday: Work 8:15 - 2:30 | OPEN
So now that you can see my schedule broken down, you can see where my "OPEN" time is. It might look like a lot, but when you take into account all of my homework that has to get done... it's not.
My next tip is to make the most of your "OPEN" time! Obviously we all know the things that take priority, such as homework, hygiene, eating, and sleep. But how do you prioritize the other things like boyfriend, friends, working out, family, cleaning, and, let's be real, our shows?!?! Well.. sometimes you just have to cut some things out. There have been many instances in where I had to say "No" to a couple of friends, because I've barely seen my boyfriend (whom I live with). See,,, he is also on the school-work hustle. Even though we live together, we still barely get enough face-to-face time. There have also been times where I had to sacrifice a night in with him so that I could give my girlfriends some love. It's all about finding the balance, and hopefully your loved ones will understand! Be sure to take care of yourself too.. If you need a day to yourself to just walk at the beach or go shopping, you do you girl! Also, remember that this period is only temporary! You are sacrificing some of your youthful days so that you can follow your dreams and, for some, be able to provide financially for your future self and/or family.
That's the other thing, keep yourself motivated! I do this through a number of ways. Since my passion is visual, I keep my creative motivation fueled through websites such as Pinterest and Unsplash. When I want some success motivation, I'll listen to podcasts that have to do with interior design. "Chris Loves Julia" and "The Chaise Lounge" are two of my favorites. Another great way to stay inspired and positive is to surround yourself with people who are also motivated and striving for life goals. I find that this helps me feel like I have someone to relate to and talk with. Whatever you are studying in school, find classmates that have similar goals. Get their phone number or IG and connect!
As for planning, I try to write everything down far far far in advance. It helps me to plan when all of my bills will be due, when school/work begins and ends, when plans are with friends and when homework is due. When I have a lot to do, I even jot down my hour-to-hour tasks. You may feel like you have a hold of everything and don't need to plan months in advance, but I can't tell you how many times I forgot important days were coming up, but caught them since they're in my calendar.
Another way to salvage some extra time is to save money. If you budget more and save here and there, you can afford to take a day off of work and go hiking or go to the beach! This is one that I'm always trying to work on! Budgeting can be hard, especially when you're only twenty-two years old and don't have a lot of experience in it. One app that I find helps me is "Pennies". It allows you to create multiple budgets that you can organize and title. I have one for "Food", "Gas", "Bills", "Rent", and "Miscellaneous". How it works is when I ever spend money on something, I log into the titled budget it belongs in. It tracks your spending and tells you how much you have left to spend. You can set up your budgets with settings like week-to-week or month-to-month. To know if I'm saving any money, I also write down how much money I am making. My budgets are set up month-to-month so I log my income for each month and see if any money was saved!
As for interning, I currently intern at NVE, an experiential branding and marketing company. My position is "Experiential Design Intern" and my duties include sourcing furniture, creating mood boards, and designing layouts. This internship is by far the coolest one I've had, and I've had a lot. If you are wondering what Experiential Design is, don't worry! You're not alone. It's a newer term and is defined as "the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions". Some of the clients NVE represents are Amazon, Tinder, Budweiser, Twitter, Beats by Dre, and more! My advice for interning is to fully commit yourself to the job, the company, and the experience. To commit yourself to the experience is to take advantage of the resources there and learn as much as you possibly can! Yes, you are working for them, but you are also trying to see if the company or field is a fit for YOU. My time at NVE has been a tremendously beneficial experience for me! All of my colleagues here have been welcoming and helpful, offering their professional wisdom. I've learned valuable tips that I will be able to apply to my career in the future and I've made some amazing connections. I recommend interning for everyone, no matter your career aspirations.
Well I hope that this post provided you guys with some helpful and insightful information! If I could have you guys feel like you've learned one thing from reading this, it would be that you CAN go to school, work, and intern! You can do anything you set your mind to <3