Throughout the 12 weeks of my summer internship, I was keeping a time log of my project-related activities. Here’s the resulting chart:
A few notes to explain the chart:
- My project was a field study, other research internships would have very different hours and kinds of activities depending on their nature.
- I spent an average of slightly more than 40 hours/week in the office. 1, 3, and 7 were 4-day weeks, 9 was a 6-day week, and 11 and 12 were crunch-mode weeks.
- With the exception of “Talks”, I only logged strictly my real work time — not the time I spent staying on top of things (reading and answering emails, catching up with blogs), taking a break, working on non-project stuff, etc. I can usually keep a pace of 40-hour weeks with 22-25 hours of real work per week without burning out (and if you think that’s too little you should start timing yourself). The last couple of weeks were a bit intense as I rushed to finish a paper and deliver a presentation, and as a result I’m now overcooked, though not burnt out. A few days off will get me back on track.
- “Connect” represents meeting people to get access to their teams, or to get feedback on our plans.
- There were a few hours of planning and a lot of reading before I started the project, so they’re underrepresented here.
- Whenever I had to choose between logging an activity as “Collect” (data collection) or as “Analyze” (sometimes the distinction was blurry), I chose “Collect”. So “Analyze” is also a bit underrepresented.
With those caveats, the chart can give you a basic idea of how a research internship project looks like.