A Student's Guide to Balancing Academics with Internships and Freelance Jobs

Sometimes you can get trapped in the mindset that busy means productive, but that shouldn't be the case.
by Samantha Onglatco   |  Dec 11, 2021
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As we continue to be confined in our homes amid the restrictions caused by the pandemic, I found that I had some extra time that I wanted to make wise use of. In my pursuit to become someone like Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada, I found myself committing to freelance jobs left and right all while handling an internship and an org position on top of my academic load. 

After a few months of juggling all of these commitments, I’ve found that it’s easy to burn out when work becomes the center of your life. It’s easy to fall victim to the hustle and bustle of the grind culture. Sometimes you can get trapped in the mindset that busy means productive, but that shouldn’t be the case. 

If you're in need of ideas, here are some personal tips I have for overachievers like me in balancing multiple commitments without burning out: 

Remind yourself that work isn’t life. 

Although it might seem counterintuitive to your goal of achieving more, what matters most when you embark on ambitious journeys is to have the right mindset. I used to find pride in working all the time because I felt like it was reflective of the work ethic I so desperately wanted to achieve, which was really just relentlessly busy. But that isn’tin fact, it should neverbe the case.

A good life is a balance of work and play, and if one aspect of your life is overpowering the rest, then you are sure to burn out and find less fulfillment in the things that you’re doing. When you accept that work is merely a facet of your life, then it will be easier to make decisions when it comes to making commitments. Know your boundaries, and only take on what you can carry! 


Take on the opportunities that you are most passionate about if possible. 

It is crucial to align your advocacies and interests with the job, internship, or org position that you are applying for. Before even submitting your CV, make sure to look into the details of the company or organization that you are applying to as well as the position that you’re vying for.

While making a decision, ponder on these three questions: Are my advocacies aligned with the company or organization’s mission and vision? What work do I find fulfillment in? Does applying for this position contribute to my long-term career goals? 

Make a system and stick to it. 

Once you have a good grasp of the workload you’ll be having, create a system that works for you then stick to it.  There are multiple content creators and authors who write and make videos about their routinestake inspiration from them, but make sure you make your system uniquely yours.

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When scheduling your days, try making use of the time blocking technique—in other words, allot specific times for certain activities, which include your academics and work-related commitments. Limit the amount of time you’ll be working on certain deliverables, and allot more time on your priorities. Most importantly, aim to establish a time when you will hard stop all work-related activities to do other things! 

Work smart, but also work hard.

Working hard does not mean you have to be working all the time, but it simply means giving your all in every task that you do so you can ensure the quality of your work. On the other hand, working smart simply means knowing when to make use of your energy and getting a lot done in the least amount of time by making use of techniques that work for you. For example, instead of trying to do three things all at once, try focusing all your energy on doing one task so you can get it out of the way. It all really depends on what works for you! 


Simply put, know your boundaries and work from there. There’s no problem with trying to achieve many things all at once, but make sure that your well-being is still your number one priority! 


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