In case you haven’t read lately, I’ve been interning this winter at that National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. This is my first glimpse at what I call the “real world” since I’m working five days a week and getting a true experience as a full-time employee (even though I’m only working 9-3 but hey, close enough). Typically, an intern will work 2, maybe 3 days a week. However, I’m glad I’m getting an experience that closely resembles my future as a full-time PR professional because I’ve come to a few realizations…
1. Commute time is sacred
I take the train into the city every day and it is the best time to unwind, relax and just think about absolutely nothing. I just turn on my iPod, listen to music and stare out the window. If you drive to work I wouldn’t recommend completely zoning out, but definitely listen to some relaxing music and take some time to just breathe. A commute is the perfect way to fuel up for the day ahead or unwind from the day’s stress.
2. 9-5 isn’t as easy as it seems
Not that I ever necessarily thought it WOULD be. I guess I just never really thought about how difficult it can be to focus and be productive all day long. I’m only working 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and even then, I’m finding it hard to get work done towards 2 o’clock. It’s definitely important to find a way to maintain productivity throughout the day.
3. Breaks are essential
Solution to the above issue? Take breaks. When I first started my internship, I worked straight through the day, even while eating lunch. Working nonstop burnt me out so now I make it a point to step away from my assignments for a period of time. Go out to lunch, take a walk, stalk Facebook – do something other than work. It’ll recharge you to get through the day.
4. Find a way to be active
I remember watching a segment on TV once where Dr. Oz recommended taking occasional breaks in the workday to get your heart rate up and suggested some go-to office exercises. I thought it was crazy – I mean, who would ever really do push ups leaning on their desk? But I’m starting to realize how important being active is when you’re working all day. It would be slightly weird if I started some jumping jacks at my desk considering I sit in a very public area at work. However, the first thing I want to do when I get home is hit the gym to clear my mind and get active after sitting at my desk all day. My workouts have helped me to stay both mentally and physically healthy which ultimately lead to a better attitude in the workday.
5. Work environment makes a difference
You spend 40 hours a week in your workplace – with your coworkers, at your desk, at team meetings. It’s crucial when considering jobs that you think about the environment you want to work in. Do you need absolute silence to be productive or do you like a little noise? Do you want to work and interact with your coworkers or do you prefer to get things done yourself? It’s crucial that a job hunter considers those question and tries to envision him or herself as an employee in different work environments.
I feel better prepared going into my future thanks to what I’ve learned at my internship. Entering the real world takes some serious consideration and I’m glad I’ve figured out some ways to be happy and productive in my future career. What other real-world advice could you offer to students anticipating a full-time job after college?