Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Setting Professional Boundaries Early On

This post marks the first full month I’ve spent at MainStreet Hammonton, and I’m learning so many lessons every day. I’ve done a lot thus far, such as event planning for a local festival, brand management, and data entry. Every day is different, and I’m not quite sure what to expect when I go in for the day.

My wide array of responsibilities has taught me the importance of developing professional boundaries. Myself and my peers are fortunate to be participating as interns at a young age, and I feel it is best to determine one’s comfort level in the workplace early on.

There are plenty of attitudes about work ethic, such as the idea of students and interns working harder than others typically older in order to prove themselves. This is often done by working extra hours, agreeing to take on tasks far from their job description, and responding to any potential calls or emails at all hours of the day. And while this may be manageable for younger workers, over time, employees often get burned out.

I believe my time with MainStreet is ideal to begin to draw my own boundaries. Often times in these first few weeks, I would find myself offering to bring home some of my work to complete over the weekend, such as data entry, though it isn’t time sensitive and I can work on it at my own pace. While I’m willing to bring the work home now, I must recognize that I have a set work day to complete my tasks. It’s also important for younger students to recognize that their time is valuable and they should be rewarded for the work they do.

On the other hand, I also believe in the importance of understanding the purpose behind some assigned tasks that are slightly out of one’s job description. I often tell others about when I was asked to attend a merengue dance class during my work day; while I was unsure of going because I didn’t know anyone, I recognized that it was important for myself, as a representative of MainStreet Hammonton and the town, to attend and make the best of it. At the end of the day, I had a great time and learned something new!

Everyone has their own work style and will work differently from one another–that’s okay! As long as one is comfortable with the boundaries they have set, then a positive work experience is sure to prevail.