How To Spend Your Internship Downtime

By Tamiera Vandegrift on May 20, 2016

Nowadays, having internship experience is just as important for any young, up and coming professional in the 21st century career world as a college degree itself. After all, it’s every student’s first step into the world of their desired career, which will lead to lasting connections and memorable experiences that every intern will carry with them throughout the entirety of their professional life.

The time you spend at an internship is valuable and for this reason, it’s important to learn to spend every hour on the hour wisely, especially during the less active periods of time.

Imagine: The clock has struck 1 p.m. You’re starting to feel the power of the food coma starting to set in from your lunch break. You haven’t gotten an email from your supervisor since you’ve clocked in. You’re sitting at your desk without a thing to do. Is it time to clock out and go home in time to start binge watching your favorite Netflix series? Should you start indulging yourself in BuzzFeed quizzes? Should you take a nap?

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The answer to all of those is a big, fat no. (If your internship actually offers those options, feel free to tell us where you’re interning in the comments section. I’m sure tons of readers would LOVE to know.)

An internship is just like any other job and should be treated with the same amount of respect. At the same time, like any other job, the most important part is using your time appropriately to best suit the needs of your company and your personal and professional development.

Here’s some ways that you can spend your internship downtime wisely.

Take Initiative

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Nothing will impress a supervisor more than by showing your ambition and independence. Throw yourself into a task without having to be asked. Do you have something due in a few days that isn’t necessarily “urgent”? Jump on it now!

“I always say there is something you could be doing,” said Jessica Morgan, an education student at Florida State. “I am always keeping busy, cutting out stuff for the next day, cleaning up around the room, organizing, et cetera.”

Not only will you be beating away several hours of boredom and twiddling your thumbs, but also you could be saving yourself later down the road when you find yourself swamped by other assignments.

Just Ask

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If you’re some sort of magic superhuman entity who has finished a day’s work in half of that time, kudos to you! We’re bowing to you in spirit. But, that doesn’t mean that you’ve been green-lighted to start spamming your Snapchat story.

“Ask for something else to do,” suggested University of Central Florida grad Kate Mullen. Odds are, your supervisor is probably very busy and could use your help on something. Even if it’s just running down the street to grab them a much-needed cup of java, your assistance will be far from unrecognized. Simply shoot them an email or stop by their office and ask if there’s anything else that you can do for them.

They’ll appreciate your go-getter attitude and your respect for their time and work. Maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ll set you off on your own adventure to do something you’ve never done before. (My personal favorite was being sent around to deliver mail to other departments since some of them would offer me free pizza and cake — but that’s another story!)

Do Your Homework

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If your internship directly applies to the work industry you plan to enter after graduation (which it should!), you can spend your free time exploring your career options and deciding if this is the right full-time job for you. Think about it. If you find yourself getting bored doing the same tasks day by day, there’s a chance this job may not be for you. However, you can take your time to find out what other interns in your position have gone on to do in their future; you’ll be more educated on both your present and future circumstances.

At the same time, you could be doing research on things that are beneficial to the company you’re interning with as well.

“I intern at an advertising company and on my downtime, I usually do research on marketing trends and stuff that will be useful to the agency,” said Florida State student Brielle Olorunda. By doing this, you won’t only be passing your free time in an interesting and productive way. Your supervisor will be impressed by your initiative and dedicated interest in the company’s work.

“Our best interns are the ones who’ve known our product deeply and been able to offer ideas for it that we would never have thought of,” said Quizlet founder Andrew Sutherland.

Although it may seem like interns are simply tiny cogs in a much greater machine, every moment spent working is important. For this reason, spending each moment wisely is absolutely imperative to your internship experience. Take Quizlet for an example.

“Interns have had a huge impact from the beginning at Quizlet. Our iOS app was first built and launched by a high school intern,” said Sutherland.

Every moment you spend as an intern for a company has a greater impact than you may realize today. Make every second great and accomplish some amazing things! Snapchat can wait.

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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