How to Keep Your Internship From Taking Over Your Life

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Compared to the part-time job grind, office life takes a little adjusting. You really have to impress your boss so you can’t check out when you’re tired. You can’t just wear gym shorts on your lazy days, and you have to get stuff done even when your hangover says otherwise. But obsessing over your clothes isn’t going to make it easier on yourself – first, you gotta breathe a little.

Relax

Remember that your internship is just an internship. “Your internship is not your life, you are doing a service for free,” said Florida State senior Emily Jakubisin. Sure, you get some experience out of it and even low wages if you’re very lucky, but you have to take care of yourself and your schoolwork first.

Use your trunk as a closet

“Always keep a change of clothes in your car,” said FSU senior Caitland Conley. Conley said she switches from her Nuberri Frozen Yogurt t-shirt to business casual without having to run home. It makes a big difference in time spent for her and allows her to schedule shifts close to one another – and that way dressing for her internship takes less time out of her day.

Make a schedule that works for you

Remember that if your office hours are in the evening, it doesn’t mean the mornings aren’t important. The morning is an ideal time to get homework and household tasks done. “Where I’m struggling most is that the internship starts later in the day and it’s easy to waste my time earlier in the day. I think scheduling is really important,” said Jakubisin. Taking advantage of that time means an internship is just part of your day, not your whole day.

Don’t be afraid to ask for respect

Sometimes your supervisor will forget to respect that you are a human being with a life. Jakubisin said her boss got mad at her for taking time off to help out with her sister’s wedding, and chewed her out in front of the other interns. “Have boundaries about how you let your internship affect how you see your personal self,” she said. Boundaries between your internship and life will keep your stress and time under control.

Find ways to meet higher expectations

It’s the real world. No one is going to hand you a piece of paper with detailed instructions for completing a project. “At your internship you have to be a lot more self-motivated,” Jakubisin said. “People are expecting good work from you. No one is telling you how to structure your time.” Be proactive about planning out your days and working on projects, as well as asking questions.

Get used to the office flow

You’ll have to adapt to the rhythm of the office. Whether it’s shooting a quick email in the mornings or stopping by your supervisor’s desk, just getting in touch will keep you on track, and let him know you’re on track. “Communication about projects is important. Ask everyday if there is something you need to be doing or let them know what you’re working on and see if there’s some other way you should spend your day,” Conley said.

Prioritize

Prioritizing your time gets you to spend it efficiently, and keeps you from working overtime. Jakubisin said, “Know what your supervisor considers most important.” That way, you know to be finishing that social media project before answering those emails. Even as a new intern, it’s crucial to be aware of the big picture.

Take advantage of free time

One of the most important things about an internship is making connections and asking for advice from professionals.  Conley said, “Always ask everyone where they come from and how they got where they are.” But if you can’t do this when you’re busy on a project, find better times to do it. “Your lunch break is something to take advantage of to proactively socialize and make connections,” Jakubisin said. You don’t have to be besties with everyone in the office – who has time for that? Just let them know you’re a cool person with a valuable presence by being friendly – now isn’t the time for an April Ludgate scowl.

Graduate of Florida State University and starving writer. Enjoys watering her cactus, hammocking, and Amy Poehler quotes.

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