The Life of an Ambitious College Student: Balancing Academics with Work Experiences

It’s no secret that college students these days face a lot of pressure to plan their future career moves several years before those decisions actually need to be made. As a result, many students seek to gain an experience (or several) in the professional world, taking on positions ranging from service and retail jobs to prestigious and demanding internships.

The idea of taking on a job or internship while simultaneously completing an undergraduate education is fairly common, even encouraged. This work experience is not intended to interfere with the multitude of additional attributes of college, including the constant academic goals and responsibilities, participation in various clubs, and the natural business that encompasses the life of a college student. Yet, I have witnessed several peers of mine fall in defeat to the pressures of taking on these various activities, and multiple peers have cited the additional work experience as the crux of their stress. How then, does one find a balance between academics and work that is manageable (and worthwhile)?

There are several ways to find the balance using traditional time management tactics, but I would like to focus on a few ideas that are specific to taking on the responsibility of a job.

Having a job in college is possible and can be a beneficial experience, but proper foresight, commitment, and effort are necessary in order to prevent falling behind.

 

  1. Be aware of your tasks, quotas, specific responsibilities, etc. adequately before they are due.

I’m including this idea as number one because it is a simple concept that can have serious consequences, which can be good or bad depending on how you go about it. Being aware of your responsibilities in a timely manner is essential to succeeding at any job. By preparing for the completion of a task, you can set yourself up for success without too much stress. Think of future tasks, due dates, or extra hours on the job as you would an upcoming test in school. A good student is aware of the test and will take the steps to succeed without enduring too much stress. The same goes for work responsibilities; by identifying the process in which something needs to be completed for the job, the completion of it is not as daunting as it would be by putting it off until the last minute.

 

  1. Find a job that fits you and your schedule.

If you are taking two lab sciences, a graduate-level engineering course, and that computer science course that everyone and their roommate is terrified of, then you might want to pass on an interview for that financial internship downtown. A job is not worth sacrificing your scholastic goals; at the end of the day, you are in school to be in school (to learn!). If a job really is that important to you however, then adjust accordingly; take a lighter course load so that the work experience can be manageable and enjoyable. Again, it is all about finding the balance.

Work experience in college is a great way to increase one’s employability and gain a leg up in the job search upon graduating. However, it is essential to consider all the other factors that go into a successful college career when seeking the right job.

Noah Wise is a student at Tufts University majoring in Biopsychology. In his free time Noah is a Chicago sports enthusiast, an intern at FirstJob.com, and an avid concertgoer.

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