With so many different clients to support, we always say agency life involves wearing many hats. But here’s another hat I’ve had the opportunity to wear, that of a part-time intern, full-time student.  

Like many students, juggling school and work at the same time isn’t new to me. This semester, though, was my first time being an intern while studying. Following my 10-week full-time internship at Rice over the summer break, I continued as a part-time intern after returning to school. Here are some key takeaways I’ve learnt over the past few months:  

Staying focused – walking the tightrope between school and work

My return to institutionalised education in August was jarring, having grown accustomed to the daily dynamisms of PR, especially since we were in the middle of a communications campaign for a social enterprise festival organised by one of our clients. Having largely spearheaded communications for the event during my summer internship, I wanted to continue supporting it. And so I kept up with media queries, interview pitches and email follow-ups to the best of my ability while juggling my various responsibilities at school.  

Although that period was particularly hectic, the challenge wasn't so much physical (i.e. long hours at school and work), but rather having my focus split in two directions. On one hand, school demanded consistent attention, but on the other, I was bursting with eagerness and excitement to see the festival to the end. I recall on a few occasions having to pick up time-sensitive phone calls from journalists, then returning to my books only to feel restless, itching for my study sessions to end so I could get back to work.  

But with time came more balance between my responsibilities. As the festival came to an end and my internship responsibilities shifted to more ad-hoc support, I gradually learnt how to juggle both school and work, without letting either eat into each other.  

Code-switching – being an art student and a PR intern at the same time

Still, there was another kind of code-switching I had to grapple with, one related to creativity. A bit of context – I’m an Arts major at Yale-NUS College, primarily specialising in creative non-fiction. Although much of what we do in PR belongs to the creative sector, our industry warrants a very difficult kind of creativity than that of the creative arts. As a fourth-year student, I’m now working on building an installation for my final year project, and it has been challenging to transition from an artistic headspace to one that is more suited to, for example, crafting an article for an ad-tech client, and then back again.  

Moments of pure, unadulterated focus are hard to come by. But as I’ve come to learn, it is precisely these limitations that have pushed me to make the best out of my time to keep those creative juices flowing, both at school and at work, and keep my project going.  

Work-life-school balance – meeting deadlines while finding time for myself

As fellow Ricer Jael has shown, work-life balance in the PR industry isn’t a myth. But what of work-life-school balance? To begin with, being a student can already feel like a 24/7 job. With an additional 15 hours of work each week this semester, time became an even more precious commodity.

Here’s a snapshot of what my week typically looks like: 2 consecutive days packed with classes, 1-2 days in the office or working from home, weekends spent preparing for classes, and whatever time I have left working on school assignments, preparing for exams and my final year project.  

Thankfully, my stint as a PR intern has armed me with a readiness to take on deadlines and no room for procrastination. I remember a day spent drafting 2-3 contributions at work, with the knowledge that a 5k-word research essay was waiting for me once I got home. Since productivity ran high that day, I decided to ride on it and stayed in the office till 10pm cranking out my essay.  

Now what of the ‘life’ part of work-life-school balance? I’ve always believed that in our own ways, we can find time for our passions, but it does take a lot of re-prioritising and an effort to stay focused on what matters the most. Exercise is something I tend to neglect when I get too busy, so I registered for a few exercise classes to keep myself committed to staying fit. And whenever I can, I put aside 30 minutes before sleep to unwind with music and curl up with my books. Caring for my pets has also provided little breathers and moments of joy amidst the whirlwind of everyday life.  

Just like this blog post, my internship is drawing to a close, and it’s hard to put into words what the past 7 months have been like – the colourful Rice culture I’ve had the privilege of peeking into, the opportunities and challenges I’ve experienced, and the friends I’ve made. What an unforgettable, humbling journey this has been, and I can’t wait to be back.