Ups and downs of an internship – how to strike the right balance

There is this excellent post on Hyperbole and A Half about the ups and downs of adulthood. The ups and downs of internhood are a little different. You see, internships are like waves.

This is what a wave looks like:

This is how your first internship makes you feel:

The first thing is something (almost) everyone goes through. You need to prove yourself and you like the work (and the idea of working) and naturally you give it all you have. While working like there’s no tomorrow, you ignore ignorable things like family, friends and TV (I still can’t believe I ignored TV).

Of course, results show and you wear your success like a mantle. This is when you look around and notice everything that is happening. If you’re lucky enough, your friends haven’t forgotten you yet and you remember how much fun it used to be to hang out with them. You notice your parents haven’t kicked you out of the house yet and feel grateful about that. You realize the TV still exists. This is when the downward spiral begins until you believe procrastination is the best thing in the world.

You still love your work, though, and a little bit of prodding is all it takes to get you back on track. And the whole thing begins again, until you find that elusive balance between work and the rest of your life. Here are some tips that might help you find it:

  1. Get organized:– Decide which tasks you want to complete over the next day or week, and do whatever it takes to complete them. Getting organized might seem boring and “not your style”, but it will help a lot.
  2. Manage connectivity:— Sometimes staying connected through your phone is a good idea (when you’re travelling, for example) and sometimes it is absolutely terrible (when you’re out with your family). Use with discretion.
  3. Stop Facebooking:– Seriously, don’t Facebook while at work. It will exhaust you unnecessarily and you won’t get any work done. And never, ever go on reddit. Reddit happens to have the disadvantage of being more interesting than Facebook, and hence more evil.
  4. Only accept work if you’re sure you can manage it:— You might find yourself saying, “Yes, I’ll do that,” and “Sure, I’ll do that as well” because you either want to make a good impression or you really find the work likeable. Accepting work just so you come across as committed may backfire if you aren’t able to complete it. It’s better to say you can’t or you need more time than to look like an idiot.
  5. Go out:— Although it might seem like everything about the world is on the internet, you’ll be surprised at what a little time outdoors can do. It’ll refresh you and possibly even keep you from turning into a zombie.
  6. Make friends at work:— Help your team and reach out to them when you require help. Not only will this make work easier, it will also make the team feel like one cohesive unit. Don’t, however, dump your work on a willing team member just because you’re feeling lazy.
  7. Be flexible:– Don’t stick to these rules because you must. Use the situation to guide you. If there’s a catastrophe at office, do not say, “Nah, I’m out with my family, someone else will handle it.” Similarly, check Facebook at least to wish people on their birthdays.

What stage of your internship are you in? Tell us if you found this helpful!

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One thought on “Ups and downs of an internship – how to strike the right balance

  • October 24, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Hyperbole and half is an amazing blog i love its simplicity and articles :)


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