Time Management: A College Student’s Perspective

As an intern in the Marketing Department, I work 40 hours per week. At any given moment, I know almost exactly how much longer I will be in the office. I also know that the only tasks I will have in the evening or on weekends are those my parents give me.

But the idea that my work cuts off at a certain time is very bizarre to me. I’m more accustomed to a college schedule, which involves a 45-60 hour workweek for a typical 15-credit schedule and plenty of assignments to do on weekends. I’m used to staying up past midnight, only sleeping when I’ve finished my Intro to Ethics reading or edited my history paper.

It may sound like I put in a lot more work at school; however, the long hours I put in are interspersed with time spent socializing, playing Tetris, or maybe just napping. Depending on my schedule, I may only complete assignments for two classes each day. Even when they demand the same amount of work, a job and a class schedule require very different time management skills.

A typical office job is a sprint: complete these tasks in this number of hours with limited disruption or distraction, and you will have your evenings and weekends to yourself (granted, many people put in overtime). College teaches you to work like Forrest Gump running across the country: take your time to eat, sleep, and chat when you want to, but don’t expect to finish that paper before dinner.

Most importantly, it teaches you to recognize when you can’t afford distractions. While a typical schedule contains a rather homogenous mixture of working and socializing, students do spend a few hours per week isolated in the library or their rooms, pull the occasional all-nighter, or become hermits during finals.

I have become much more efficient here at work because I don’t have a Facebook tab open, and because no one’s going to start a spontaneous game of Catchphrase. However, I’m sure that at school I complete the same amount of, if not more, work per week because I am able to distribute it differently. College certainly does teach people to manage their time and be careful with distractions,but these skills are quite different from those needed in an office setting.

For those of you who have already graduated, how hard did you find the adjustment from the work-at-your-own-pace college lifestyle to the rigors of corporate America?