Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

I’ve had numerous internship interviews in the last month, so I have my responses to the most common questions memorized by now. At one interview I was asked, “How do you prioritize your responsibilities?” Something I wasn’t expecting to be asked, but knew was valuable as an employer to know.

As the gears in my head turned as fast as they could to produce a well-spoken and thoughtful response, I was struck by the fact that I didn’t realize just how much prioritizing I had to do day-to-day to make sure all my deadlines were met and responsibilities were fulfilled.

It turned out to be a common question among interviewers. My answer, which has been refined every time I’ve been asked, went something like this:

Generally, I make a list of things in my head that should take a certain spot on my priority list. For example, school comes first–assignments, projects, and tests are my number one commitment, because that’s first and foremost what I’m at college for.

Second come sports. Considering that I’m awarded a scholarship for playing golf, I try to look at it as more of a (fun!) job than an extra-curricular. I’m committed to playing as best as I can, and with a good attitude, so practice, weight-lifting, and tournaments are my next priority after schoolwork.

I have a work study on the campus ministry team, and that comes third. I am being paid to work for them, and there are expectations to meet, so it definitely comes before plenty of other things.


Extra-circulars such as writing for the campus newspaper, tutoring, and teaching yoga come fourth. While these are technically paid, I can sort of pick and choose the amount of hours, so it will depend on how much my other priorities are requiring of me that week.

Finally, my free time can be spent however I choose–reading, hanging out with friends, watching Netflix–as long as all of my other responsibilities have been taken care of.

With some simple prioritizing, you can make sure you are meeting expectations set by yourself and others, and not feel bad about spending your free time having some fun. I would highly recommend making a similar list as you transition into an atmosphere where you have more control over your time and responsibilities.