The Valiant Virtuoso

The story of an Advertising intern at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself During Your Internship (and Every Day!)

Often times, there is a tendency for interns to want to go overboard—to take on huge amounts of work and leave the best impression possible on our colleagues. In doing so, we often make ourselves crazy. That was me during the first four weeks! In addition to the challenges that come with moving into a new house/apartment, it’s difficult exploring an unfamiliar area, making new friends, and—perhaps the most demanding aspect of them all—finding a balance between a productive work life and a healthy personal life. In reflecting on my first four weeks, I have prepared a list of things to remember when interning (and in every day life). Don’t forget—you are not just interning to learn more about the field at hand; another part of the experience is learning how to live independently, and how to find a healthy balance between your professional and private lives. Here are five things to remember during your internship!

Feeling stressed/overwhelmed? Go for a jog or walk through the closest park.

Last week, I was booked with an abundance of creative assignments ranging from print programs and brochures, a radio spot, and five email campaigns, in addition to the other responsibilities I had for my internship class. Needless to say, I was feeling overwhelmed with the vast amount of responsibilities on my shoulders, as well as my own, personal desire to explore the city of Washington D.C. So what did I do? Go to the closest Starbucks, whip out my laptop and look like a snazzy, corporate professional? Well, not exactly—I did that the night before (Wink!). Instead, I went jogging around the National Mall. While it was certainly relaxing, it was also a great opportunity to reflect on my personal and professional goals, to think about how things are going, and to also think about how I could improve some things. If jogging isn’t your thing, perhaps a walk or swim could provide you with some time for relaxation and reflection?

Washington DC pond

The beautiful view as I jogged around Constitution Gardens.

Explore the surrounding area.

Of course, this might be easier for someone living and working in a city, but if there are destinations near you—national parks, monuments, shopping centers, sports venues, theaters, etc.—take the time to explore!  Not only does this give you a more well-grounded understanding of the area in which you’re living, it’s a great way to re-energize. (And this is a side note, but whoever said that D.C. is only comprised of the city or the National Mall? This hidden gem—Dumbarton Oaks—is located just north of Georgetown.)

Dumbarton Oaks photo

Escape the rush of the city and abscond to the garden—and then, immerse yourself in its soundtrack of birds, water, and wind.

Write in a journal or personal diary.

One of my all-time favorite ways to relax and reflect is writing in a journal or personal diary. Not only does it offer you a space in which you can open up about the ways you’re feeling, it’s also a way to be present in the moment—to remember the good parts of the day, and also to sort out challenges and think about ways to approach them in the future. In addition, use this time as a way to rexamine your goals and objectives, as well as track your progress. Do you know what would make journaling even better? Find a spot outside where you can sit down, write, and immerse yourself in your surroundings. I just did so in the National Gallery of Art—it was incredible!

Writing in journal photo

Write, reflect, and feel—it’s one of the beauties of writing. Wow…I almost sound like an English major.

Ensure that you receive enough sleep every night.

To be honest with you, I am still working on this one myself. However, let’s face it—the scientific benefits of sleep are innumerable. Not only does sleep equate to more happiness, it also leads to better health and improved decision-making. As a result, in order to do your best work, it is imperative to make sure that you are getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. (Did you hear that, David?)

Sleep during work photo

Save yourself the trouble… Get enough sleep! You don’t want this occurring during your internship!

Make time for yourself.

In addition to meeting my colleagues at the Kennedy Center and learning about the fields of marketing, advertising, and public relations, one of my favorite parts about my internship experience has been exploring and pursuing my passions. Upon coming to D.C., I assumed that politics and government defined the city’s character. And guess what? I couldn’t have been more incorrect—D.C. is a booming arts and cultural center. From the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap, to the Shakespeare Theater Company and the off-the-map opera houses on U Street… there are so many opportunities if you search for them. Search for your passions, hobbies, and interests, and explore what your town/city has to offer!

Renwick Gallery image

A photo from the “Burning Man” exhibit in the Renwick Gallery. If you’re in D.C., please check this out!

Thanks for reading! As I move further into the internship, I may update this list with more things to remember when caring for your physical and mental health!

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  1. Patricia Hougland July 1, 2018

    WOW David…. I am so very proud and I cannot wait to visit. You sound like you are in your element and enjoying life and your surroundings. Luv you Memaw. ❤️❤️

    • ValiantVirtuoso July 3, 2018 — Post Author

      Thank you for always encouraging me! Love you!

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