Work boundaries (and when to bend them)

Photo by  Innotas.

Photo by Innotas.

One of my projects for the last week and a half has involved speaking to corporate executives around the world about a service or product they offer, and using this to explain to our readers the hows and whys behind these products. I have to be a bit vague about the details of the story because it’s slated for an upcoming issue and talking about stories yet to drop is very strictly against the rules, but it’s definitely an exciting project.

It’s also exhausting, and requires me to be up and calling other countries at bizarre hours of the day, courtesy of a fine mixture of different timezones and corporate execs only being able to speak during business hours. Which, of course, means that I’m working well outside of the times I agreed to with my editor when I started my internship. And that actually is a bit of a problem – my schedule is very full, and I stick to what we agreed on for a reason. When I have to get up at, say, 5 am to participate in a conference call in Europe, it messes up my entire schedule for the day and makes it difficult to meet my other obligations.

Yet, from a journalistic perspective, a deadline is a deadline, and it’s up to me to do whatever it takes to get it done. My editors can be sympathetic to my plight, but at the same time, they can’t actually do much. So what do I do in situations like this?

I assess my priorities. What’s the most important to me, right now? Well, this internship is – it’s my ticket to networking in the industry, good references, and some solid portfolio pieces, all of which are more important to me than most, since I’m going straight into the workforce from here. For me, messing up my day and sometimes falling behind on my other obligations in order to do the best I can do in this internship is the answer.

But it’s a delicate balancing act, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’m taking the correct path. Maybe I should be more strict about my limitations with my editors, and only take on assignments that I know I can accomplish during normal hours. It’s possible.

What about you, fellow PDXSXers? Where do you think the line should be drawn?

Keegan Clements-Housser

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7 Responses to Work boundaries (and when to bend them)

  1. pdxsx says:

    I think recognizing that a deadline is a deadline is your real ticket to success. Not many supervisors in the workplace are going to be empathetic to your schedule. 🙂 Kick ass here, Keegan, and the world shall be your oyster.

  2. Assessing your priorities is a critical task, especially as an intern where there is so much expected of you with little return. In your case, waking up at odd hours to tune into conference calls. I have also had to work strange hours, waking up at 5 a.m. to help out at a live set and then work a full day after. It can be difficult, but knowing your priorities when you have to work strange hours is key to being successful. I think it’s important to list your tasks for the day and goals and from there decide what can actually be done.

  3. pcriscola says:

    I think showing your dedication will show that you are a great asset to the team! As an intern we try and impress our bosses and do whatever it takes! It’s hard to decide what is too much and what we are willing to agree to without stretching ourselves thin. It can become a challenge to balance work and other obligations while still staying true to yourself. Understanding your main priorities and allowing yourself to say no will be beneficial too!

  4. madelinestone says:

    If it’s a story you are passionate about and your editor assigned it to you, then you should be jumping for joy! In the world of daily journalism working on a piece you genuinely care about, is for me, the main reason to be doing it. Yes schedules can be difficult but by choosing to pursue a career in journalism you have already given up the idyllic notion of a nine to five job. You inadvertently consent to working lunches (if you even have time for lunch), occasional long hours, and working weekends or holidays. Being a journalist is about telling stories and unfortunately stories happen when they happen. In my internship I have worked mostly weekends, which initially irritated me and frankly still does when I let my inner grump out. I have to remind myself this is part of working my way up in the newsroom. I realize that working weekends has taken me to many fun and lighthearted stories which help grow the diversity of stories my company publishes. Overall in journalism there are no working time boundaries, you are a journalist 7 days a week 24 hours a day whether you are formally on the clock or not.

  5. madelinestone says:

    “bizarre hours of the days” should be changed to bizarre hours of the day.

  6. feeneyy says:

    I agree that meeting a deadline is the most important piece to this blog post. I am a firm believer that as an intern we need to work outside of our schedule to prove ourselves. Even if this means moving out of our comfort zones or having to loose a few hours of sleep, this time as an intern is so important to our future career. Thanks for positioning your post as a question, it was great to hear others’ perspectives on the idea.

  7. Kathy Kwong says:

    I have to say prioritizing is not one of my strong points. As an intern, all deadlines are just as critical to meet. If that means waking up at odd hours of the day to meet our organizations needs, we as interns do have to reorganize other priorities. I think you have a good outlook on this. As of right now, this internship is important to you. If kicking this internship’s ass is your priority, I think you’re doing it! Great post.

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