Six AM alarms. 13-hour work days. Networking drinks till late. Caffeine and stress overload. Perpetual exhaustion. And the cycle repeats five times a day, for eight weeks.
This was my schedule as a summer intern in the financial industry in Edinburgh. And this is what I was most apprehensive about prior to starting my internship. Having just completed an anxiety-ridden Term 3, the globetrotter in me was eager to get away on a long holiday, one that ideally involved relaxing by the beach. While my friends would document their travel escapades on Snapchat, I quite frankly expected my summer to be mundane. I must admit, while I was at times jealous of that lifestyle, I can confidently say that being a full-time summer intern is much more than just this demanding weekly routine.
Here are some of the ways I made the most of my summer as a full-time intern:
Organise your week:
Knowing that I only had 8 weekends to squeeze in my never-ending list of Edinburgh sight-seeing, I maintained a weekly organizer to efficiently juggle my commitments. Sorry folks, tourism and travelling is indeed also a full-time job. Some weekends were spent walking up the well-known Royal Mile leading to the Edinburgh Castle, while other weekends were spent discovering the eclectic nightlife the city boasts. Keeping a journal of events and places you wish to visit greatly helps keep track of your travels, given your hectic schedule.
Find people with similar interests:
This was key. I lucked out in that I made friends with people also new to Edinburgh and hence eager to discover the city along with me. We planned our weekends against our individual checklist of places to visit and made sure to cover everyone’s interests. Seeing as our internship coincided with the famous Fringe Festival, we planned shows to watch after work and preferred pop-up food and drink markets to unwind after a hectic day. Not only do you explore the city in this way, you also get to network and forge friendships with your co-workers.
Explore hidden gems:
Living away from the office and the main tourist areas was perhaps a blessing in disguise as I got to explore charming residential neighbourhoods otherwise missed by visitors. Coffee-scented alleyways, quaint German villages, local fruit vendors and florists, walks along river streams, and indie speakeasies – all add a different flavour and give you a real appreciation for the city as a local. From a career standpoint, one of the major aspects about being an intern is also assessing if you want to settle down in this city post-graduation. Hence, you want to try and explore the city as a local.
The rulebook of travelling greatly varies. For some, it’s the mainstream sight-seeing, for others its creating unique experiences. Spending a Sunday afternoon having a late, hearty brunch with your pals, or reflecting on your summer experiences while strolling down unknown paths together, can rejuvenate your spirits from your crazy schedule and turn your summer into a memorable one. It’s important to realise early on that you simply cannot do everything on your ideal ‘to-do’ list. And that’s ok. In an ideal world, I would’ve explored the Scottish Highlands or made a quick trip to edgy Glasgow over a weekend. But it’s essential to pace yourself, as the last thing you want is to exhaust yourself from all the added sight-seeing.
We often hear the phrase ‘work-life balance’ thrown around aimlessly, not truly knowing how to put it into practice. If I must pinpoint an important lesson these 8 weeks have taught me, it is to diligently strive to attain that perfect “work-life balance” in whatever form that may be.