Day in the Life of a Graduate Intern

After finishing your degree at university, there are lots of different things you can do. For example, you can go on to further study, take a year out to go travelling or start a new job. In particular, lots of students go on to do graduate internships at companies all over the world. These internships may be directly linked to the degree you studied or may be completely different. Take me for example, I studied Archaeology at university but I’m now a graduate intern working in the Access and Success team at the University of Manchester- so quite different to what I studied!

While post-university work might be a long way off for you, I thought it might be fun to talk through a day in my life as an intern, so you get a bit of an idea of what a graduate internship role might be like. Although every day is different and sometimes I work from home, I thought I’d talk through an average day in the office. So…let’s get started!

6:00am: Wake up.

I live quite far away from Manchester, so on days when I am coming into the office I have to wake up pretty early! I’m really not a morning person so this is quite a challenge for me, but now that the days are getting longer and the sun is up when I wake up it’s definitely easier. On days when I’m not in the office I wake up at the much more reasonable time of 7:30am.

7:30am-9:00am: Commute to Manchester.

So begins the commute to work! I get the train to Manchester Oxford Road which takes about an hour and 20 minutes (and is always late!). I’ll then walk down to the office from the station (again, it’s much nicer doing this now that the sun is out more).

9:10am: Coffee!

An absolutely necessary part of the morning is grabbing a coffee on my way into work. There’s quite a few coffee shops near to the university so there’s always somewhere to go. My usual drink of choice is an iced latte with oat milk!

9:15am: The office.

After quite a long journey I finally make it into the office at around 9:15am and set up my laptop for the day.

9:30am-10am: To-do list and calendar sorting.

Once I’ve sorted my computer set-up for the day I take a look at my to-do list and all the tasks that I want to complete today. I also check my emails to see if anything important has come in and also to reply to anything that needs to be replied to.

I like to write my tasks down in a little notebook and also add them to my Outlook calendar to block out time to do each individual task. I usually don’t stick to the timings exactly but it really helps me visualise the tasks that I need to complete in the day and roughly how long each task will take. In addition to adding tasks to my calendar, I’ll also check to see if I have any meetings booked in and if there’s anything I need to read over/do to prepare for them.

10am-12pm: Get started on my tasks for the day.

It’s now time to actually start doing the tasks I need to complete today. The work I do varies from day-to-day and might sometimes consist of one large task that I need to complete to a strict time-scale or lots of smaller tasks with varying deadlines.

Today I had quite a few smaller tasks to get done so I decided to try and be very productive and get a good start on my work earlier on in the day. My favourite way of getting myself focused on work is to put on a playlist and listen to upbeat music. I’ll keep this quiet when in the office (of course!) but when I’m working from home, the louder the music, the better!

Some of the tasks I needed to complete this morning included organising a session within a school to talk about all things university and our access schemes, some admin work for the Manchester Distance Access scheme such as working on spreadsheets and sending emails and also writing this blog post! I also had a few very small tasks come through via Teams (which is where my team at the university do most of our communicating). It’s always important to be flexible with my tasks and be able to find time to fit in these smaller tasks that come in during the day.

12pm-1pm: Lunch!

My favourite time of the day. I take my lunch break from around 12pm-1pm on most days. Of course, when I’m in the office I can’t resist the amazing food options around campus and in the city centre of Manchester.

Most of the time I’ll grab a sandwich or salad from one of the amazing cafes or restaurants nearby to campus. However, today I decided to treat myself to lunch at a vegan restaurant in the city centre.

1pm-3pm: Back to work.

After lunch it’s time to get back to work. I’ll be carrying on writing this blog post as well as doing some proofreading for a website!

I’ve also had some new tasks come in with a deadline of the end of the week. When this happens, I always make sure to make a note of them straight away (otherwise I’ll definitely forget) and block out some time in my calendar later on in the week to make sure that I have time set aside to complete them.

When I’m working I always make sure to take regular breaks- particularly when a task involves concentrating intensely or looking at the computer screen for a long time. It’s important to get up and have a walk about/stretch every once in a while and also to simply take breaks away from looking at electronics. I also make sure to drink lots of water and bring snacks just in case I’m hungry.

3pm-4pm: Team meeting.

It’s time for a team meeting! This is a time for us all to get together as a team and discuss the work that we’ve done and the work that we need to do in the coming weeks.

Currently, many of our meetings are online, over Teams or Zoom. However, we are slowly moving back into having some team meetings face-to-face!

The number of meetings I have really varies from day to day. Today was a relatively meeting-light day, with only one meeting. Some days I have lots more, with meetings about specific group tasks or catch-up meetings with my manager!

4pm-5:15pm: Completing final tasks for the day.

We’re nearing the end of the day now and it’s time to complete the final tasks of the day. To finish off the day today I’ll be making the header image for this blog post on Canva. I really enjoy making the header images for the blog posts as I get to be quite creative with the styles and colours I use!

I often try and complete less challenging tasks, such as making the header image, towards the end of the day, especially when I’m in the office, as I’m often getting quite tired at this point and need a simple task to ease myself towards the end of the working day.

5:15pm: Finish work and back to the station!

The work day is done! Time to pack up my things, refill my water bottle and set off for the train station. My train isn’t until around 6pm so I like to take my time walking back to the train station. This was especially enjoyable today as the weather was lovely!

Once I get on the train I can finally relax for a bit. I like to read a book or listen to a podcast on my way home to unwind from the day.

7:15pm: Leave the train and go home.

Wow! That was quite a long day. But I finally make it off the train just after 7pm (as long as it isn’t late!). It is then time for me to go home and relax for the evening, luckily tomorrow I’ll be working from home so won’t need to get up at 6am again, phew!

So, hopefully that gives you an idea of what a day in the life of a graduate intern looks like- at the very least what a day in the life of an intern in the Access and Success team looks like, anyway! Some days can be very different to this, such as if there is an online or in-person event I am helping out at or if I have a day full of meetings. However, I think today was a good indication of what an average day is like in my job.

Other graduate intern jobs might be very different to mine but hopefully this shows you just one example of the types of jobs you could be looking into doing once you complete your degree. I also hope this has showed you that, often, graduate roles won’t require a specific degree! As I’ve mentioned, I studied Archaeology at university, and although I used many of the general skills I learnt during my degree in this job, it obviously isn’t linked to Archaeology at all! So, unless you have a very specific career in mind, then why not think about studying something you really enjoy learning about? There will definitely be jobs out there with non-specific degree requirements after you graduate!