From the EZG Intern Desk: The Plight of the Student/Athlete/Intern


Scot Brownell, Ebben Zall Group’s fall public relations intern, reflects on his semester balancing school, sports and an internship:

Becoming a well-rounded professional is the ultimate goal.

Becoming a well-rounded professional is the ultimate goal.

Balancing schoolwork and athletics can be difficult for any college student. As a member of the tennis team at a college with a rigorous academic program, much of my time is spent either on academics or athletics. This dual commitment could put a strain on anyone’s schedule. For my senior year, I added one more commitment to my agenda, a public relations internship at Ebben Zall Group for my fall semester. At EZG, I have learned a wealth of information, not just about the world of PR and advertising, but also how to manage my time in a professional workplace. Student athletes who take on an internship during the school year will certainly struggle more with balancing schoolwork, athletics, and work.  Yet by the end of the semester, the rewards should far outweigh the burdens along the way.

Scheduling is the first concern for student athlete-interns, as this Huffington Post article points out.  To allow 10 to 20 internship hours a week, students’ class schedules should allow sufficient time. My usual schedule at EZG became Tuesdays from 1:00-5:00 pm and Thursdays from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm.  I planned so that I would have no classes on Thursday and one morning class on Tuesday.  Students may find certain courses interfere with their internship schedule, but there are ways around this, like applying for an independent study of the course. If worse comes to worse, students can try talking to the department chair.  Many schools are fully aware of the value of the internship experience and might be able to work out a flexible schedule specific to the situation.

When it came to to the tennis team, I was much more reluctant to make concessions for the internship. Typical college sports programs practice five days a week in season and have a weight training program at least twice a week.  Team members under scholarship receive tuition with the expectation of full commitment.  However, as the NCAA  points out, “almost all student athletes will go pro in something other than sports.” For this fact, I sacrificed Tuesday practices for the valuable work experience at EZG. Coaches have an obligation to coach teams to the best of their ability and thus may give some pushback. It’s wise for students to have a discussion with their coach, explaining their main goal in college is to prepare for employment. Thankfully, my coach was flexible. This will likely be the most difficult scheduling obstacle for student athletes with internships.

As any college student will tell you, as the coursework piles up, stress levels pile up right alongside. And it’s ok for students to explain to internship supervisors that they may need a day off here or an early leave there are needed for academic purposes. The people at EZG were very understanding of this and urged me to put academics first.  If after all this, the stress is still mounting, interns can also look into stress-coping programs and guidance counselors at their schools. Best case scenario is a program similar to this one at Dalhousie University – a room full of puppies.

With the normal four-course schedule, tennis practices five days a week, and 10 to 12 hours a week at EZG, I knew that staying organized would be crucial this semester. Among many things, this balancing act taught me to get ahead in coursework whenever possible, to never underestimate the traffic on the Mass Pike, and to give my undivided attention to whatever task I am involved in.  But out of this chaos, student athlete interns like me will become more efficient, dedicated, and ultimately successful at our future jobs.


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