By: John Eppich
I’ve been in school for about 16 years of my life. From preschool to my senior year in college, I have always described myself as a student first. I may have worked the odd job to help pay for my video game and technology addictions, but I have always had school to fall back on.
After spring 2019, however, I will be totally on my own. The training wheels I’ve grown so accustomed to riding with will be removed from my life. As I take on my first internship with North Coast Media, I’ve felt the training wheels starting to become loose. So for anyone in the same boat, here are my tips for transitioning from the world of academia to the real world.
1. Don’t overthink.
It is so easy to ponder and think over every little thing that you do. Don’t do that. Stress and anxiety love to feed on your brain’s ability to over analyze every single thing you do. It is okay to go on autopilot and trust yourself. I’m not saying don’t use your brain, but don’t burn yourself out over thinking a project.
If you find yourself thinking too much, take a minute to get up and change position. If you are sitting, stand up. When you move, your brain hits the reset button and suddenly you aren’t overthinking as much.
2. Coffee is your best friend, but know your limits.
I don’t drink that much coffee. I know, it’s unheard of to be a college student and not be reliant on caffeine to get through the day, but working much earlier than when my classes usually are has made me more inclined to drink coffee.
If you have ADHD like me, you know caffeine can mean jitteriness, and extra hyperactivity, which can lead to anxiety. If you are going to drink coffee, don’t let yourself get to that point. Avoid multiple shots of espresso. You only need 1-2 cups per day. If you are still tired after that, consider tip 3.
3. Sleep at night.
I am a complete night owl. I will stay up till sunrise and sleep all day if I am able to. But, in the professional world, a good night sleep is a must. No one likes a grumpy intern. Think of it like being jet-lagged, you have to move your body to a whole new schedule.
Force yourself to go to bed by midnight at the very latest. Set multiple alarms as well in the morning so you don’t oversleep. If you can, make a game out of waking up early by setting a up a scoring system. 10 points if you get up by the first alarm, 5 points if it’s the second alarm.
4. Be social.
If you are at your cubicle all day, you are going to drive yourself insane. Don’t be afraid to talk to anybody. Your coworkers like it when you acknowledge their presence and smile. Be sure to also go to outings like happy hours or baseball games. It’s not only a chance for you to unwind but to get to know the people you work with outside the office. You may find out you and your co-workers have a lot in common. I still keep in contact with my friends from previous jobs after bonding over playing Pokémon GO during our free time.
I am a good listener, but I still struggle sometimes. My brain loves to be distracted, especially when people are talking. Make sure you listen to every word that someone says to you. Sometimes you might need something repeated, and it is better to ask them to repeat themselves than to struggle in silence.
Don’t pretend to listen when you are spacing out. It’s okay to say, “I’m sorry, I blanked out for a minute there, what was that again?” My brain loves to space out because I have ADHD, but you should do your best to work around that. It’s very easy to do especially when it’s been a long day at the office.
It may seem intimidating transitioning from the only life you’ve ever known to something completely foreign, but don’t stress, everyone had to do it before you and many more will after!