Ask the intern: How do I deal with stress and nerves at my internship?
my name is Elroy and I’m from India but currently I’m studying at the University of Worcester in the UK. I have recently applied for your international internship program. If I am accepted, I hope to be placed in Madrid in a business management internship role. Although I am excited at the prospect of starting my career, I am also quite nervous as I have never experienced the stress of a workplace environment before.
I was wondering if you could give me some tips for dealing with stress at work? What advice can you give so that I can make sure that my nerves don’t get the better of me?
Hi Elroy, thanks for writing in. Feeling nervous about starting a new role is a completely normal part of life. This is even more true when you’re starting your first ever role in a new country as an intern. Before I started this internship, I was really concerned that as I did not have much previous experience, the stress would be hard to handle.
However, life has actually taught me more about handling stressful situations than I thought! I’m sure you’ll feel the same when you start your internship. That said, below I’ve shared some advice that will hopefully calm your nerves about workplace stress.
1.) Get organized
As you probably know if you’ve ever left an essay to the last minute or missed a lecture because you forgot to set an alarm, a lot of life’s stressful situations can be avoided. The same rule goes in the workplace. Although there are some stresses which are inevitable, I’ve found that by getting yourself organized a lot of stressful situations can be avoided.
A hugely helpful thing I’ve learned from my internship abroad is the importance of creating a schedule and sticking to it. By making a plan that includes everything you need to do and allocating each task to a specific time slot, it’s much harder to fall behind or forget to do something. This way, you never need to stress about whether you’re going to finish everything you need to do. For particularly busy days, prioritizing your tasks and breaking them down into small steps makes them much less daunting and makes you feel less overwhelmed.
2.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you ever do feel overwhelmed or even just unsure about a particular task, there is no harm in asking for help. Your supervisor was an intern once too and they understand that the first few weeks in a role can be stressful. Once you’ve been given guidance, the task that previously seemed impossibly scary instead seems much more manageable.
3.) Keep work at work
If you’ve had a particularly full-on day at your international internship, it can sometimes be hard to switch off when you head home for the day. If you make a mistake it is so easy to spend your evening worrying about it. However, this type of stress is counterproductive. By setting definite boundaries between your professional and personal life, you can ensure that you don’t burn out from stress. You can also focus on really enjoying your time away from the office.
4.) Establish good habits
Even though you might not see a direct link, getting into good habits outside the office can be hugely beneficial to your productivity and stress levels. Try to exercise regularly, even if this just means walking home from work rather than getting the metro or bus. Exercise releases hormones such as endorphins which reduce stress. The walk home from work could also give you the perfect chance to unwind before you get home.
Also, if you’re a person who tends to feel jittery in stressful situations, try to limit your caffeine and nicotine consumption. Although you may think a quick coffee or cigarette break will calm your nerves, their stimulating qualities can lead to you feeling more anxious than before.
5.) Be confident
Some of the most common stressful situations for people are things like large meetings and public speaking. Although these can seem like scary, high-pressure situations, they don’t have to be stressful. The more you practice you get, the less nerve-wracking it becomes. However, as an intern you haven’t yet had the opportunity to practice. In this case, my main tip would be to try to be as confident as possible. If people think you’re calm, the chances are you’ll actually start to feel calm too!
Now that you know my top tips for dealing with stress at work, you’ve got nothing to fear. Apply today for an international internship.