Gabriel Han Wou Tai – G2 Ops Systems Engineering Intern
Keywords – Intern, student, academics, business, professional, engineering, success, workforce, experience, classroom, competitiveness, workload, stress, discipline
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
How do you maintain a healthy School-Work-Life Balance in today’s business world?
The engineering curriculum is known for being one of the most stressful and time-consuming compared to other degrees. There aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all assignments, prepare for exams, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. With the increasing competitiveness in the workforce, students must really stand out from the pool of competitive applicants for open positions. This increases the pressure on students to find internships that provide the tools and skillsets to stand out in this pool.
For students, internships are the most valuable experience we can get while attending school. Although it seems virtually impossible to fit a part-time job into the school schedule, it is the most effective way to solidify classroom knowledge while preparing ourselves for the workforce. Here are 3 things to know about being an Intern.
The Student Life
One thing to know about being an intern is their lives are notoriously known for being hectic. While attending full-time school, some students need to work part-time or full-time jobs to pay for their school and living expenses. A regular semester for engineering students ranges between 15-19 units adding up to over 23 hours of classroom hours weekly. This work does not include the supplemental time required for office hours, assignment completion, and exam preparation. The rest of the time can be used for extracurricular activities, such as joining sports clubs, going to the gym, participating in academic, and social Greek life. These activities help alleviate the stress involved with the coursework while boosting morale.
But this doesn’t apply to all students. This is a perfect case scenario where the students have little-to-no financial obligations, leaving all their spare time to do as they please. The perfect scenario does not apply to a good majority of students. There are students who pay out-of-state tuition. There are students that must pay for most of their expenses out of their own pocket. This means all their spare time is allotted to a job. And that usually does not help in alleviating stress.
As a veteran student worker, I was able to experience both sides of the coin, using my VA benefits allowed me to focus on my course work in my early college days. But with the increased competitiveness of the workforce, an internship was the missing piece for applying my skill set learned in the classroom. It also better preparing me to become a working professional. So how do student workers manage to be successful in both academic and professional careers?
Key to Success
Time Management and planning are essential to being successful in any industry. The same applies for the school schedule. By splitting up the class work into different days and doing a little bit every day ensures that you complete the work before the deadline. It also allows for a more thorough understanding of the subject leading to an easier and less stressful time during exam season. It’s also fair to say my military training has helped keep me disciplined in maintaining a routine.
Having a clear laid out schedule on the assignments and work I will accomplish each day keeps me organized and on track to being productive each day. Applying this same methodology to the workspace not only benefits me, but it also benefits those on the team. You see, since everyone will be up to date with the tasks that are currently being worked on and future tasks that will be accomplished throughout the week the chances of being surprised are lowered.
Transition from School to Work
Being prepared is only part of it though. Having to condense an entire school schedule to fit in with a work schedule can be a double-edged sword: It’s basically twice the workload in the same seven-day period. Working in a professional type setting during academic downtime adds significant stress to the student workload and psyche, especially when we struggle to think of applicability of the material we are learning. There is a “famous” saying among the engineering students when dealing with material that seems a little out of this world – When am I ever going to use this?
There have been many instances where I was able to immediately and effectively apply my newly acquired skill set from school at work. The gratification that arises from that is unparalleled. This is the perfect motivator to keep pushing and learning more in school. It creates a cycle that makes me want to be a better student and leads me to become a better professional.
It took many long nights and many semesters to reach this point where every day I am thankful to have embarked on this journey. Now that I have reached my last semester as an undergraduate, many of my peers are facing immense pressure of what are they going to do with their careers. They don’t know where they are going to end up or what kind of job are they going to do. Meanwhile, this long-term investment I made in myself as an intern secured me a full-time position well before my graduation date. My stress levels are pretty low, and it’s allowed me to cherish every single moment from this last semester. Ultimately, that makes it all worth it.
Being a student worker requires a lot of maturity and sacrifice. Showing up to an office 3-5 times a week while most students are enjoying a nice sunny day in San Diego during their time off can be a little discouraging. However, effectively using the skill set developed during school to make meaningful impact in government projects outweighs it all. Finally, going into a semester with a handful of full-time offers provides a sense of job-security for students that cannot be acquired in any other way.
Learn more about MBSE, Cybersecurity, and Cloud Engineering at G2-Ops.com.