If you are new to my platform, HI welcome! You are reading the 3rd post of a series I’ve created for anyone navigating a first job or an internship. The tips provided are from my experience as an intern for various companies throughout the past few years. Specifically in the business + technology industry.
They are intended to help you and support you wherever you are in your career. Thank you so much to all of you for showing me support with this.
Okay, let’s get started…
Something I know a lot of new hires or interns don’t talk about is the work-life shift you go through when starting a new role. You may not be used to the long hour days or some of the sleepless nights. If you’re entering the workforce as a college student, it can be a challenge to adjust to a new environment. By week four you will have a better grasp of what type of schedule works best for you but it can seem a little repetitive. Trust me it’s okay if you feel a little bored of it.
You wake up, get ready, go to work, maybe do a workout, come home, make dinner, have a few hours to yourself, and go to sleep. Now older people may look at this and think “yeah welcome to the real world” but I kind of want to challenge that. Not everyone’s life’s goal is to live that kind of life. Try to remember when you were new to this.
Managing a different type of work pressure and your own life can be a huge adjustment for people. I know for me and other interns it has been. No matter what role I have played in my internships, adjusting to the monotony and fatigue was a process.
Work in itself, regardless of what you do, is really gratifying. Your internship is a huge dopamine rush of gratification to your brain. You’re doing things that are making an impact in the company and you have to learn to disconnect from work and your personal life. Your work cannot be your happiness. It can be really easy to blindly fall into this trap of having work be your only source of happiness. Remember you’re a person beyond the work environment. You spent 40 + hours in your week at work which is a lot of time and sometimes even more than you see your own family or friends.
In your internship, you will experience some work pressure that you’re unfamiliar with. That’s perfectly normal. So many people entering the workforce experience this or even being in the workforce. These are things no one really tells you about working in the real world.
As a student, you have a lot of free time that isn’t as available when you’re working. This is a culture shock for a lot of people and that’s okay. I’ve experienced this in various ways. It’s taken me 3 weeks to get comfortable with a sleeping schedule and a routine that works for me.
Here’s what I’ve learned to do to ease some of the pressure.
Let me know what things you do that I haven’t shared!
- Unplug: Allow yourself to disconnect from the office when you’re not supposed to be working. I don’t check emails after 5 pm. Once I’m home, I’m home. I like to keep my work life and my personal life separate. I will admit, I do think about the work and carry some of that with me but I try to be present in the time that I have for myself.
- Figuring out what brings you peace + gratification outside of work. Make sure you spend time, even if it’s just an hour, with yourself doing something you love to do. For me, I love spending time creating content on my platform or on social media. It’s a creative outlet for me to be present with my time and really do something I love to do.
- Talking to your mentors and managers at work to let them know that you’re adjusting to this new routine. You should be able to be honest to them and let them know that you might be struggling but are looking for ways to find a balance. If work is getting too overwhelming, it’s okay to focus on your immediate tasks and say no to things. It’s okay to let your manager know if your work load is overwhelming. Communicating some of your challenges throughout your internship is a way for them to offer insight as to how they do it. It’s a great topic to talk about in your bi-weekly 1:1s!
- Giving yourself the permission to make plans with your friends and your family so you’re not so consumed with work. Make time for those people. Sometimes I have a hard time keeping contact with my friends or family when I’m super busy because I’m consumed with creating content or busy with work. They can help put things back into perspective and will anchor you.
- Making plans that you’re looking forward to. Whether it be something you do after work or on the weekend. It’s okay to enjoy your time outside of your internship. You’re supposed to. Connect with other interns near you or in your program to go on fun adventures. That’ll help bring you back to reality.
- Leaning in on that support system of yours. Whenever I don’t want to think about anything work related, I have my friends tell me all about their lives and their world to distract me. I make it about them to get my mind off some of the chaos. If you do want to talk to them about a work problem, they may not understand right away because they don’t work the way you do. That’s okay! Confiding in your support system is going to help you stay grounded in who you are and it’s going to ease some of that pressure.
- As cliche as this sounds but doing something active helps relieve a lot of pressure. You can channel the stress from work into something that makes you feel good. Even walking outside for lunch will brighten up your energy levels. I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves as interns to do the best. It’s great to be perfectionists but you need to find a way to get release that energy.
- Remember that it’s only 10 or 12 weeks and things do get easier. They’ll be bouts of your internship where you will have a lot to do and other weeks you won’t be as busy. Business is a cycle. You’ll find your balance and your routine. Also so many people go through this. Find solace knowing that you’re not alone in figuring this out.
- Make yourself a priority. Do at least 3 things for yourself everyday that help you unwind and destress. You need to take care of yourself and it’s so easy to forget and focus on other things but be mindful of what you need to be successful.
In your internship you’re going to meet a lot of other interns who are going through the same thing. You guys grow closer because you’re going through the same experience together. Keep those connections close because when you’re overwhelmed or just need to talk about work they are going to be a huge help.
You should be mindful of how you are treating yourself outside of the workspace.
If you’re reading this and you’re not an intern or never had an internship, do not let this scare you. People create their own “balance” in their own way. Some people have a harder time adjusting and some people adjust really easily. It just depends but it’s good to know that this is something that comes along with an internship too because you’re learning in an applicative setting. I don’t want to intimidate anyone from having an internship because it’s hands down one of the best learning experiences I’ve had. I’ve learned more from my internships than I have in my years in school.
I’ve had a few insightful conversations from people who have been in the industry for 20+ years or people who are just entering it (like myself) and they all have similar experiences. You are going to find what works for you. Remember to take care of your mental health and your physical health before you consider work or school or anything.
Hoping this was helpful. I’m working on some amazing stuff for you guys, I can’t wait to share to all of you really listening ✨