Week 5- Critical Reflection on Skills and Competencies

We have now passed the halfway mark through the program and the time is flying by. I think this is because I am having such a good time and I’m so busy. There is so much to do in Berlin, so there is always something to do to keep yourself from being bored. I think that it would be extremely hard to come to Berlin for only a week and to see everything there is to see. This is because Berlin’s infrastructure is different from the more traditional city. Usually, cities will have a big centerpiece to it that has the majority of attractions there and the city sprawls out around that centerpiece. For example, In Munich, there is the Marienplatz, which is in the center of the city and is a major tourist attraction. However, in Berlin, the center of the city is a massive park called the Tiergarten and there is no downtown like in other cities. Berlin feels more like multiple cities that are pushed together into one big city. The different neighborhoods of Berlin all offer many tourist attractions and things to do. If I were here for only a week, I’d probably only be able to thoroughly check out one of the many neighborhoods. I have been here for over a month now and I am still only scratching the surface of going to all the different places in Berlin that I want to check out. This is a good thing because it allows me to always have something to do when I get out of work or on the weekends.

On Saturday morning, I went to an area of Berlin that I have never been to before and I got to explore Viktoriapark. There is a beautiful waterfall in the park, where people come to relax in the sun and some are even swimming in the different sections of the waterfall. It was a really hot day, so I took some time and relaxed by the water before leaving. It’s these little adventures to new spots in Berlin that I really love to do, and hopefully, I will be able to do many more of these before leaving in July.  

My experience so far has been amazing and I have loved every second of it, but this experience is quite new to me. I think Pitt does an amazing job trying to prepare their students for “the real world”, but at the same time, I think it is something that nobody can fully prepare you for. Pitt has given me the necessary skills and tools to be successful in my work environment. Having the proper academic knowledge and skills are crucial to being able to make an immediate impact on the company you are working for, and this is especially important in our case because we are only here for two months and we don’t have the luxury of time on our sides. However, all the academic knowledge in the world cannot fully prepare you for your work and the environment that you will be in. Being in an actual office is very different from being in the classroom, and I don’t think Pitt can do much to prepare you for your actual job. I don’t think this is Pitt’s fault because everyone’s job and work environment are going to be different and it would be impossible to prepare every student for their precise job. Pitt gives you the tools necessary to be successful, but it is in the student’s hands to take these tools and apply them to their professional careers.

To address this gap between the classroom and the office, I have been trying to learn as much as I can about professional work life. I have been observing my co-workers and supervisors to see what they do and I have been consciously trying to learn from them. I think the only way to truly understand what it is like to be working in the professional world is to just do it. You can’t read it in a textbook or be lectured on it, you must live it and learn as you go. Every day that I am here in the office, I learn more about the professional world and what I need to do to be successful in this environment. The experiences that I am gathering here every day are surely going to be helping me in the future. This experience is going to help to prepare me for my next internship, and then that internship will help prepare me for whatever the next step in my professional career may be.