Thoughts on a Summer Internship

Hello World.

 

I have to come to terms with the fact that I never will blog as frequently as I promise myself I will. Once again, it’s been a solid two months since I last wrote. My summer internship is over, my summer classes are over, yet there are only two short weeks before I move back to campus (again).

 

This summer flew by. I have enjoyed my time immensely as I made new friends and worked (sometimes seemingly endlessly) for hours on end. But, as with the close of every job/season, it’s time to reflect on the good, the bad, the necessary that happened. Here are just a few things I learned this summer:

 

  1. Maximizing your resources is absolutely necessary to being successful.

I knew I would have the internship at AidData in early May. I knew then that it only required 30 hours of work a week, which would have left ample time to relax each day…or I could use that extra time to pursue a different field. I chose to take two classes. Once my internship started, I learned about the awesome opportunities this company had to offer: I quickly got on board with what I liked to call, a side project. Then, I learned about a research proposal competition, which I also decided to do. Did I take on way too much? Of course. Did I sit in my friends’ room several nights and wonder how I was going to get everything done? Heck yes. But now, with everything finished, I feel so accomplished and proud of what I did this summer. I wouldn’t have been happy if I had let those opportunities fly by me. So, if you’re pursuing an internship for the upcoming semester or school year, think about what else you can do. Don’t be stuck in one job, bored out of your mind with the repetition and monotony. Maximize your resources, and start something else.

 

Oh yeah, I would also like to mention: Maximizing your resources can lead to more networking opportunities. People higher up on the company totem pole will see you being proactive and taking interest in something you’re passionate about, and will want to write you a recommendation letter in the future.

 

  1. I cannot sit still for 8 hours a day.

I never thought I would have problems with a desk job in the future. I imagined myself researching, writing, crunching numbers for my dream job. Now, after having to sit down for six to eight hours a day, I know I can’t do that.

 

  1. Being surrounded by people you like is key to surviving anything.

I would not have survived my internship without my best friend by my side all summer. I learned the art of subtle communication- utilizing google chat to converse with someone sitting right beside you. Of course workplace gossip kept us entertained amongst the boring hours of coding, and we looked especially productive having our email open, rather than being on Facebook or with eyes glued to our phones. Communicators of the future, learn the necessity of g-chat. I can see the tagline now, “Google chat: inciting workplace rumors since 2015.”

 

  1. Cooking for five is more fun than cooking for one.

This summer was the first one where I was completely on my own, without a meal plan. Eating out every night is just too god dang expensive, so I had to learn how to cook.

Except, I didn’t. Luckily for me, four of my close friends all lived in the same dorm as me this summer, so we all ate together most of the time. In reality, only one of our friends knows how to cook really well. (Bless you, Andie, for your delicious food.) But, we all ate together many nights, which made the evenings so enjoyable. Sometimes I even felt like a real adult there. There were times that I knew I could have been studying, or researching, or reading a book I wanted, but I chose to strengthen the bonds of friendship with these people. They truly made my summer so memorable.

If you have a painfully boring internship, make sure you make friends that you can spend time with. I cannot stress this enough. My friends MADE this summer for me. Sure, the academic stuff was productive and made me feel successful, but my friends and the fun I had with them made this summer one of the most entertaining and memorable summers I’ve ever had.

 

  1. Everything has an expiration date.

Your internship will end one day. That exceedingly difficult class you’re taking will end. One day, everything will be over. So don’t worry if your internship is the worst possible thing you’ve ever done, or that you’re stuck at an awful job because it pays well but the work sucks. The terribleness will come to pass, and you can move on from it then. There were times this summer that I didn’t think I could geocode anymore. While I enjoyed my job, I would not want to do it for another summer. And that’s okay! That’s the point of internships. We do them, and we learn what we want to/don’t want to do for the future. Just take the horribleness one step at a time.

(In the event that my boss ends up reading this…I’m sorry, but you’ve said it yourself: geocoding can be boring work.)

 

So…that’s a very brief list of what I’ve learned this summer. I honestly do wish I had had more time to write, as I have a lot of thoughts/ideas for upcoming blog posts. But, I will inevitably get too busy, so this is what you get for now.

 

Did you have an amazing summer internship? What did you learn from it?

Missing the Mark

Have you ever applied to something and not gotten it? “Dear sir or madam, but we regret to inform you that…” emails can be the worst. They tell you one thing and one thing only: You’ve missed the mark. You didn’t make the cut. You haven’t succeeded yet.

Sometimes in life, we don’t get what we want. I’ve had my fair share of failed applications, botched interviews, and missed opportunities. It doesn’t mean we’re not good enough; it just means we’re not right for the part.

I spent a lot of my freshman and sophomore year applying to things that I didn’t get. Before I got to college, I didn’t really understand the merit of not getting something you applied to. I started to experience failure with the college admissions process. However, I was lucky. I got into the majority of the schools I applied to. The one I really wanted to get into? Not so much. The scholarships I applied to? Nada.

I entered college, expecting the same attention as high school. I was a good student, so I obviously would get the extra opportunities, right? Boy, was I wrong.

But I wasn’t the only one in that boat. College was a bigger sea, so the applicant pool was a lot larger, even for extra-curricular and volunteer activities. I applied to several programs that were only looking for a few students, and got turned down by all of them.

The next year, I realized that I had to start applying to internships, if I wanted to jumpstart my career. I luckily found my way into an on-campus job that turned into my internship for the summer, but I still applied to about 7 internships that I didn’t get into. To be fair, some were above my skill level, but the “recommended qualifications” never stopped me.

I’ve lived my life with the mantra that if I work hard enough and want it bad enough, anything is possible. Any road is possible. Any life that I want to live.

I still believe that to this day, but I know that with hard work and good expectations still comes failure. I have failed a lot more times than I have succeeded, but I haven’t given up yet. (I don’t plan on giving up any time soon.)

If you’re among the crowd of students without a job, an internship, or a worthy opportunity this summer, don’t worry. I was in your place every summer before this one. It doesn’t mean that you suck, or are a lousy applicant, or are “unfit to be a working adult.” It just means that you have more time to improve yourself.

So! Don’t spend the summer laying around, doing nothing. Pick up a book (or several) on a topic that interests you. There are tons of online courses available on nearly any subject in the world. Learn something new. There are even courses in programming languages that you can put on your resume (hint hint I wish I had time to do this. If you have the time, do it for me.)

Sadly, this does not mean binge-watching the new Orange Is the New Black season will become a skill you can put on your resume. It does, however, mean that you can focus on something you’re passionate about, which will impress college admissions counselors and job recruiters alike.

I always have too much on my plate, but that’s because I don’t stop trying to shove things on it. Sometimes, nothing on your plate is a worthier experience than having too much on it. So don’t worry if you didn’t land the perfect internship this summer. You can still make the most of it.

I’m Back

It’s been quite a while since I last blogged…about 5 months actually. It’s a weak excuse to say that I didn’t have time, but frankly, I didn’t. So much has happened this past semester at college and I’m eternally grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had.

Within the past 5 months I have:

  • Traveled to Montreal (Oh Canada)
  • Started my first unpaid (big girl) internship
  • Traveled to Chicago
  • Worked harder on a paper than I ever have in my life
  • Failed a test
  • Attended a number of keynote lectures on foreign relations
  • Made some new best friends

I became very focused on doing what I needed to do for my future career. I’m an over achiever, so of course that meant busying myself, striving to be perfect academically. This need for perfection, however, kind of outshone my need to be a real person.

I’ve missed blogging because it kept my reflective side intact. My passionate, exploratory, innovative side faded out this past semester, and my analytical, knowledgeable, determined side won. Neither side is better than the other, yet I know that I need a balance of the two in my life to be efficiently successful.

This summer I will be back at college, taking a few classes and continuing my big girl internship (except this time with real money!) I’ve long realized that the time for relaxing summers is over, not that I ever spent a summer just chilling. I know I have my work cut out for me in the future, but I’m really happy where I am. I’ve finished two years of college, I have two more to go. I haven’t (completely) failed yet, and I don’t plan on it.

I hope to continue blogging, at least once a week throughout the summer. There will probably be more world news mixed in with things I find curious and inspiring. Sorry not sorry, that’s just my focus nowadays. Maybe I’ll even explain where it is I’m working. Who knows.

More to come, I promise.

Now for some photographic proof I actually was there…

IMG_4046[1]

Throwin' what I know in front of the Chicago Bean.

Throwin’ what I know in front of the Chicago Bean.

I love Montreal.

I love Montreal.

It Can Wait

beach

Do you feel like summer is ending a bit too fast? In less than two weeks, I’ll be back at college. And don’t get me wrong, I’m entirely thankful for that…but am I the only one who keeps thinking of things I need to accomplish before I have to get back in the swing of real college life?

 

I keep adding more things on my to-do list, e.g. one more book to read, one more topic to learn about, one more ENTIRE SERIES to watch on Netflix. And as much as I sometimes dread having nothing to do, there are days that I wish I could have more willpower to say no to something and check more things off my to-do list instead.

 

(Did I mention I still don’t have everything I need for college yet? Yeah…please let these weeks go by more slowly!)

 

I become conflicted because I still want to enjoy the last bit of my summer, yet I want to be productive so I can look back and say, “This. This is what I did with my summer. Look at all I’ve accomplished!”

 

However, there’s a tiny voice in the back of my head that says, “That all can wait.”

 

I don’t need to do everything now. There will always be time to learn more, or read more, or organize more. But, these precious time I get to spend with my friends won’t always be there. It’s a constant struggle for me not to feel remorse when I don’t reach the goals I set for myself personally. But I know that at the end of my life, I’m going to remember these memories with my friends more than the knowledge I stuffed inside my head. Besides…knowledge is going to have to be stuffed in my head for the next three (or more!) years of college.

 

So yes. It all can wait.

beach2

 

Go out and enjoy the last bit of summer. Do something you’ve never done before. Take an unexpected break from the purely stressful realities of life and laugh. Yes, I’m enthusiastic to go back to school again, but, that feeling can wait.

Ramblings of a Summer Mind

Life is hard. Like really hard, sometimes. And it goes by fast. I mean really, how could I have let eight days go by without a single post? Tsk, tsk. I really should get a handle on my time management skills. 

But it’s not like I haven’t been busy. However, I have had ample time for Netflix…

By any means, I apologize for my lateness. If I had anything noteworthy to blog about, I’m sure that would be a different story. But my life so far looks like this: 

  • Wake up
  • Eat
  • Skate
  • Eat
  • Nap
  • Skate
  • Eat
  • Sleep

Like I said, uneventful! If I’m not working for my dad at home, I’m skating or exercising. And that’s about it. However, between plowing through The West Wing on Netflix and reading, I’ve kept my mind occupied. 

I recently read Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and I have to say, it was fabulous. I’m not a huge fan of simple comedy- I love rom coms, but as far as comedy goes as a whole…I normally pass it. I didn’t really know much about Mindy Kaling before I read this book, but now I know a little bit more than I would have liked to (she is one hundred percent an open book!). Mindy Kaling prides herself on how she became a comedian, and she uses that term loosely. Needless to say, now I know more about comedy in television and movies, and, knowledge is power, right? 

However, I will bow my head to the book in one aspect: it gave me a great idea. In the book, Mindy mentions a fascination with Colin Firth, one I must say, I completely agree with. So now, in addition to hopefully finishing The West Wing soon, I am also going through all of Colin Firth’s movies, starting tonight with The Importance of Being Earnest. Why this feeble goal, you might ask? Well, because it’s summertime and I don’t have anything else to do when I’m lying in bed, trying to recuperate from the aches in my muscles from exercising more than I’m used to. (By the way, that ache doesn’t ever go away, or seem to get better…just for future reference, in case any of you were planning on taking up weight lifting or skiing…whatever outrageous sport fits your fancy.) 

I am now going to go back to the cinema created world of literary classics in movie form. Let’s hope I come out alive. 

 

P.S. If you have any summer book recommendations, please let me hear them. It’s not like I have a lack of books to read (just ask my mom, I have a whole trunk of them at my disposal), but I’m always interested in what other people find interesting. 

Peace, love, and Colin Firth. 

Summer Hair Tips

Ahhhh, summer. Long live those blissful, sunshine filled days spent solely outside in the warm rays… You don’t know what that is either? Good, I’m not alone.

I know a lot of girls who complain about the summer because of the humidity’s distressing effects on their hair. Because I live in Virginia, well, it’s humid for a good portion of the year. Humidity can ruin a good hair day…especially if you want your hair to do something other than its natural style.

How I feel about my hair most of the time

How I feel about my hair most of the time

For me, I’m returning to the skating rink for the summer, where there’s a different kind of humidity brought on by hot temperatures outdoors and cold temperatures indoors. Instead of praising the days spent outside in the sun, I’m now claiming “Long live the endless hours spent inside the skating rink.” On these long, sweat inducing days, my hair routine is as follows: Shower, brush hair, put hair in bun. Sometimes the hair gets dried. Other times if I choose to sleep for 20 more minutes instead…it doesn’t. But my hair stays in a bun ALL DAY. It’s just easier to not have to redo hair 5 different times. But when I finally get home and take my hair out of the bun and brush it…it’s a mess. If I want to go somewhere after skating, such as to the movies with my friends, there’s nothing else I can do other than putting it back up into some sort of ponytail nonsense. I’d really rather not look like a troll doll when going out in public (what happens when my hair is down).

So my healthy hair tips for the summer? Nonexistent.

If someone can teach me how to have healthy, manageable hair after a hard day of skating and exercising, please, let me know so I can share with the world.

If not, please wallow with me in hair induced pities.

In Summer’s Swing

You know, when I said that I would have more time to blog after final exams were over, I really thought I was going to be right. However, sometimes life decides that you don’t need a break after all. In the 18 days since I’ve left college, I’ve been home for two days, in Northern Virginia for 3 days, North Carolina for a day, back home for the night, then back to Northern Virginia, and then back to North Carolina for a week long (and much needed) vacation, and now I’m home for Memorial Day weekend before heading back to Northern Virginia in a couple of days.

I never imagined my summer would be THIS crazy.

And with all my traveling, you would have thought I would have learned by now how to pack lightly.

I haven’t.

 

But what I have learned is that vacation is necessary. I had never been on a self-termed “vacation” for more than 4 days before. My week in North Carolina was the first week that I didn’t feel tied to a computer or forced to work really hard. I got to do things that I wanted to do, like take really long walks on the beach and actually finish a book in less than a month. Some people know how to turn their brains off regularly to allow themselves to take an actual break in the midst of a busy week, but I haven’t managed to figure that out yet. I know I’m still growing up and I have a lot more to learn before I get to full fledged adulthood. But I can finally appreciate the mindset that relaxation is key to a happy lifestyle. I always thought that if I worked hard enough, my hard work would make me happy and therefore I wouldn’t need to take a break ever. Maybe soon I’ll have it drilled into my head that breaks are necessary to optimal funcitoning. And now, I can say with a smile, that I’m ready to delve back into my busy summer headfirst with no regrets about missing out on anything.

 

I don’t know if your summer has started yet, but if it has, whatever you’re doing, don’t forget to take a vacation for yourself. It’s a good kickstarter to any summer full of work OR play.

 

P.S. I do sincerely hope I can reserve more time for blogging has it has indeed been too long since I last wrote. I will be sure to keep you up to date about the current events in my life as soon as I can. Happy Summer!