I was hesitant to apply to be a writing intern for the Department of Veterans Affairs Digital Media Engagement Team (DME), mostly because I am a multi-event athlete on my college’s track and field team. Recollections of 7 a.m. lifts, two-hour afternoon practices and all-day weekend meets ran through my head as I read about the internship and the commitment of 10 hours per week. I decided the experience the DME offered would be worth it, even if it did make my life a little more hectic.

I was right in that my internship responsibilities added to my already sizable workload. Sometimes I found it frustrating that I had finished all my schoolwork and would have been able to relax for the night if not for the couple of hours of DME work I had to complete. Whenever I felt overwhelmed or burnt-out during my internship, I reminded myself of the skills I have sharpened, connections I have made and the importance of the work that the DME team does for the Veteran community.

My best tip for my fellow college athletes is to fit your internship responsibilities into your schedule every day to avoid dedicating large chunks of time before your weekly report is due. I write down in my planner when I am going to work on my internship projects and what I want to achieve in that timeframe. However, with practices, meets and classes, it can be hard to carve out a couple hours; I try to take advantage of the breaks I have during my day, even if it is only 15 minutes, to work on an internship task. Writing a post while on the bus to a meet or editing in between classes are key. 15 minute and half-hour blocks add up!

I have found that writing, researching and editing DME posts are a nice break from schoolwork because I enjoy my internship work more than my homework. Getting your difficult tasks out of the way earlier in the day is best and allows the later hours you work to feel a little more laid back and enjoyable. I have had a terrific experience as both a DME intern and a college athlete. It is possible to do both when you cancel out outside distractions, such as your phone, and focus on using your time productively. If you ever struggle with balancing your responsibilities, never hesitate to reach out to your department heads or division officers, they are here to help!

Writer: Erica MacSweeney

Editors: Katherine Berman, Julia Pack Graphic

Designer: Grace Yang