By Rebecca David
My summer internship caused me to grow in areas I was not even aware of. As a college student and one of the youngest employees, I was a little overwhelmed at what to expect. I wanted to prove to my coworkers, managers, and myself that I had what it took to succeed. Nevertheless, I lacked real-world experience and the confidence that comes with it. At the start of my internship, I was not unaware of my strengths and weaknesses, nor was I attentive to my surroundings. However, through training, feedback from my team, and experiences with customers, I was able to change as a person and grow as a young business professional.
One of the biggest areas of growth was learning to be direct with others. Despite believing I was a straightforward person, I quickly found that I was unable to be direct others and that it was a problem. As a shy and fairly agreeable person, I had always associated being direct with being rude and outspoken. However, through my internship, I learned that being direct makes everything a lot simpler as you can be honest and straightforward about a situation without having to beat around the bush. I was shocked to find that people actually appreciated when I was direct with them and that I could still be myself while being direct.
In addition to not being direct, the confidence I lacked in myself and my skills caused me to second guess myself, even when I knew the right solution to a problem. Developing the confidence I needed came with time and experience, with each customer and situation causing me to gain more self-assurance in my knowledge and strengths. I also began to accept the mistakes I made as learning opportunities as opposed to failures, starting fresh each day with my head held high.
Critical thinking was another skill I attained through my internship. As a student, I’m used to studying for hours until I have mastered the material that I will be tested on. However, I found that in the real world, there is no study guide or textbook to handle tough problems. At first, when I encountered new situations, I ran to my co-workers, asking for their thoughts and opinions and unable to think through problems on my own. In turn, they pushed me to think for myself and assured me that my opinion and solutions mattered. As I gained confidence and the ability to be direct, I was able to increase my critical thinking skills and look at situations from multiple perspectives.
I’d have to say that one of the most exciting aspects of my internship was that the growth I experienced at work carried through into my personal life. I found that I was more direct, had more confidence, and thought more critically through situations not only at work, but also around my friends, family, and teammates. My summer internship stretched me to step out of my comfort zone and was an experience I will value for my lifetime. I still have a lot of growing to do, but I now know that I have what it takes to succeed.