Lessons From a Busy Junior Year

Today was my last day interning in communications and marketing at the National Women’s History Museum, and I’m truly thankful I’ve been able to combine my majors in business and history to do meaningful work this academic year. I almost can’t believe that nine months ago, I almost didn’t apply to this position because I needed to submit a writing sample and I wasn’t sure if I had anything good enough — since then, I’ve learned to write creative social media posts, curated a toolkit of resources for AAPI Heritage Month, and even gotten a short article published in a magazine distributed to over 20,000 people.

Now a rising senior — which feels crazy to say! — I feel fortunate to have gained valuable experiences interning at several different places throughout college, from the energy industry to software and most recently a cultural institution, figuring out both what I like and what I don’t like. But equally important as the actual work I put out, this year in particular I also learned a lot about balancing a full class schedule and an internship. Here are a couple of the lessons I’ve been trying to implement:

Learn to turn down opportunities/commitments

I somehow managed a truckload of extracurriculars and classes in high school, and I’m still tearing myself out of the mindset that I need to do as much as I can physically fit into a day. I tend to stretch myself thin — there are so many courses I want to take, but I also want to do all sorts of extracurricular things, and then I also see countless cool work experiences everywhere I’d love to pursue. I’ve recently been trying to re-evaluate my priorities better, knowing that I’ll get more out of doing fewer things and doing them well rather than being exhausted filling every waking hour with a commitment. This past year, I pulled back from quizbowl, a club where I was president in 2019-2020, so that I could focus more on my classes and internship.

Think about ways to connect your internship and academics together

I think one of the great things about interning at the same time as taking classes is that you have near-daily access to so many resources, both professionally and in the classroom. In my first summer internship, I didn’t do much to connect my previous coursework with what I was doing in a cubicle 40 hours a week (granted, I was also a little lost with what I wanted to do and very timid when it came to talking to professors). It felt like there was school, and then there was internship work. But this time around, because it was during the school year, I reached out and had one-on-one conversations after class with many of my professors about what I was learning at the museum and got career advice from them, while also getting feedback on my work from my internship supervisor. The academic papers I read in my history classes influenced the content I put out for my internship, and I found many more ways to successfully connect school and work.

Smiling thumbs up pose with magazine article

Trying my best to take a self-timer photo with my magazine article

I’m sure my perception of a good work-life (or internship-school) balance will continue to change as I grow older, but I’m so grateful for the wonderful opportunities I’ve had thus far and the ways they’ve helped me develop. I can’t wait for a relaxing break from classes and my final year of college — I have a new internship, my first time as a first-year orientation counselor, and an exciting senior honors thesis coming up — but first, I’m going to go take a long nap to celebrate the end of a hectic but fulfilling year. Happy summer!

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