You Can Multi-task… But It’s Bad for Your Internship

In my experience, most students who first enter the workplace think they understand what it means to multitask…but when they hit the work world, it’s a little different.

Watching TV while on the internet while texting is a form of multitasking – but it’s different than the sort of multitasking young professionals encounter at work. The main differences are…

1) You don’t often get to choose the tasks that make up the multitask

2) Because the tasks are not your own, you don’t always get a lot of guidance about which tasks are more important

…especially with students who are still green – staffers will be on the lookout for signs that an intern isn’t able to bear the multitask. So, definitely be willing to multitask, with gusto, with glee. Ask for guidance when you need it, but definitely work with the attitude of not if, but how.

That being said – multitasking sucks. It’s not efficient and in the workplace, enjoys a reputation much greater than it deserves. It’s estimated that, in terms of productivity, one hour of focused time is worth three hours of multitasking time.

So, in other words, don’t multitask just for the hell of it or just to look cool. If you do, your work will suffer.

Should you multitask when one of those pesky, but somewhat misguided staffers is on the lookout for you to crack? Sure. But just realize that somebody taught that staffer a bad lesson about the value of multitasking when they were an intern.

During your internship, don’t buy it.



About the Author: Eric Woodard is the author of “Your Last Day of School: 56 Ways You Can Be A Great Intern and Turn Your Internship Into a Job” and founder of, a site that teaches students to be great interns and successful during internships. Eric created and managed internship programs for the White House and U.S. Senate. He’s also consulted with a variety of national non-profit clients to create and manage successful internship programs. Over the years Eric received zillions of thank you notes from interns, and has kept every single one. Follow Eric on Twitter!

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