Overcoming Anxiety Upon Entering the Workplace

Overcoming Workplace Anxiety at Your Internship

Internships boost confidence and add experience to a resume, but the stress and anxiety that accompanies starting a new position can be overwhelming. Fortunately, this is a conquerable obstacle.

Starting an internship or a new job can overwhelm you. Taking that first step down an unknown path often causes stress and anxiety for many students. The key to success in the professional world is not focusing on those obstacles, but instead on how to overcome them. Anxiety and nerves represent nothing more than a conquerable obstacle that more interns deal with than one might realize.

Whether they have a clear-cut plan in place or not, opportunities such as internships boost students’ confidence and add experience to a resume as they transition into the workforce following graduation. There are many ways to deal with the stress, anxiety or nerves that accompany starting a new position.

Solution 1: Ask Questions

Everyone encounters similar experiences following graduation and entering the workforce. In my opinion, the best way to deal with starting something new is to consult advice or seek help from a trusted friend. Asking questions is beneficial to everyone, not just the person asking, and sometimes an answer may surprise you. 

By asking questions, you are displaying interest in your work as well as a desire to learn and grow. The advice you receive may not always be what you anticipated, but sometimes that is the whole point. Advice is meant to help you think differently and offer new perspectives. At the very least, questions provide clarity and reasoning that you may have lacked beforehand. 

Solution 2: Get Familiar

Normalizing the new tasks, people and responsibilities around you will help clarify and redefine who you are and who you want to be. With time comes clarity, and no one stays the “new person” or the youngest person at work forever. As you mature and spend more time not only completing your work but also with the people around you, you will likely experience a greater satisfaction for your accomplishments and feel less stressed moving forward. 

Solution 3: Physical Activity

Focusing on your body is also key. Mind over matter is important. If you are physically relaxed, chances are you will be less stressed and more open minded. Low stress and an open mind establish high potential of success at a new position because these mental attributes contribute to comfort, and a higher comfort level decreases nerves. 

Solution 4: Practice and Reflect

If you're nervous about making and answering phone calls, then practice talking on the phone.
If you're nervous about making and answering phone calls, then practice talking on the phone.

For example, if your position requires answering or making calls, and that is something you are nervous about, then practice talking on the phone. If meeting deadlines is worrisome, assign yourself deadlines for smaller tasks in your personal life to slowly become more comfortable handling work with a deadline. If you have difficulty remembering names, then make a conscious effort to mention peoples’ names in conversation to build easier name recognition. 

Starting a new job or internship may feel like more than day one of the rest of your life. It can be stressful, but it does not have to be. Finding a job that suits you and one that you are comfortable with is a competition not against your peers, but rather internal. It is a personal journey along a path that is rarely straight, with many barriers to climb. Everyone deals with nerves and overcoming them may take time. But it is not impossible.

Evan Pron, Washington Center Student Blogger, Summer 2019

Evan is a student at Monmouth University, located in West Long Branch, New Jersey where he is currently studying Business Administration with a Concentration in Finance and Political Science. Evan is a Summer 2019 intern at the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, which strives to support new and small businesses through open access to loans, credit and capital.

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