About two weeks ago I started an internship at a company called AND. Since this is the first serious trip into the workforce I’ve made I’d like to talk about the experience for a bit.
When I told an aunt that I was going to do an internship, she described internships as being largely about “learning how to work”. While I am no stranger to just hard working, I’ve found that she was correct. Learning how to operate in a corporate setting has taken up the majority of my learning so far. It’s not that the work is so radically different from what I’m used too. The way one goes about it is a bit different.
Luckily, I’m only working on one project, so my personal overhead is limited. I do occasionally need to wait for a decision to be made or to get a bit of information from someone. The hardest things for me to do so far, are taking initiative and communicating. Of course, I can do these things, but I rarely really had to do them to the extent that I’ve been doing now. They are also, just hard in and of themselves.
For the most of my uni time (so far) the line between work and rest has been really blurry for me. My work was always either with me or looming over me. I’m one of those people who just can’t stop thinking about a problem once I get started on it. Even when in totally unrelated social interactions I often found myself thinking about the problem I was currently working on. My friends were also the ones I worked with. This in and of itself is nothing bad of course, but it does mean that a lot of your conversations go about work even if you’re not actually working.
Weekends were not really weekends, they were just times when there were no lectures. I also often felt really guilty when I relaxed, and often had a looming sense that I was forgetting or should be doing something when I had free time.
All of that has changed quite a bit when I started my internship. I decided at the beginning to not take any part of work home. All of it stays on the computer at work, so I literally can’t work when I’m outside the building. Not that that would have stopped me thinking about it before but it does help. I also make a conscious effort not to think about work when I’m not there. Not because I don’t like it but to solidify the oh-so-important line between work and rest.
You see, I try to think of rest as a part of work. If I rest well, I work better, and I get more done even if I spend less time working. Not only do I just plainly work better if I’m rested, but I’ll be able to keep doing it, instead of burning out again within a few weeks.
To have the weekends off, and I mean really have them off, is such a refreshing experience for me. The ability to detach yourself is crucial to rest, and this was something I was never able to do. It is a skill I’m cultivating now and I think it is already bringing me a myriad of benefits.
Another thing that I’ve had to get used to is having a rhythm again. I’m a fiercely routine-based person so I always tried to maintain something resembling a routine. I often couldn’t really do that, though. The thing with a schedule is that life has a habit of getting in the way of that. When that happens and there is nothing to reinforce that schedule, it’s really easy to just let it slip. I’ve been quite enjoying having a rhythm again. Even if it is a very tight one.
You see, I have to commute for at least an hour in both directions. This takes quite a bit of extra time out of my day. Not only that, but I have to make sure I’m in bed early enough that I can catch enough zs. I really have to get used to the fact that I can do exactly one thing per evening. I can work out or see a friend or watch a show etc. It’s tough, but I still think I prefer this to the old system of not having the clear enough distinction. I just have to learn to enjoy those things on a schedule a bit more.
So far I’ve been enjoying myself, even if I’m a bit uncomfortable wit hall of the changes happening at once. I’m sure that everything will settle into a routine soon enough and when that happens, I’ll really start progressing.