They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and after watching two months in Spain go by like a 50-minute recitation I have never agreed more with this statement. The time I spent at Pulsar Technologies was full of experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. As a student, as a future engineer and as an individual I have seen tremendous growth in myself.
Personally, I think my growth is best characterized as increased confidence. At the start of the trip, I was incredibly introverted, underconfident and averse to any sort of step outside of my comfort zone. In public, I was hesitant to order food, initiate conversations or socialize extensively. At work I often found myself only speaking when spoken to and simply performing tasks in silence or killing time on my own until the end of the workday. Fortunately, I didn’t stay trapped in this shell for the duration of the trip and by the end of my internship I was comfortable making small talk with my coworkers, asking for new tasks, posing questions during meetings, leading certain iniatives and a lot more. Over the internship, I saw myself transition from a timid 20-year-old student to a much more self-sufficient 21-year-old worker. I became better able to advocate for myself, voice my opinions and just generally function as a confident individual.
In addition to the skills listed above, I gained something arguably more important during the internship: perspective. Taking semester after semester of classes makes it easy to lose sight of the goal at the end of all the academia: applying all your acquired skills to a job. Now, as I enter my senior year, I’ll be able to take my final courses with an enhanced sense of what I’m working towards and therefore an increased motivation to get the most out of my courses and ask questions that aren’t just relevant to the work at hand, but to my overall career path.
Professionally, I think I left the internship with a much better idea of the norms, interactions and practices that make up a modern workplace. Prior to this trip, I had zero work experience in my field of study. Therefore, while I largely knew what to expect from a modern IT workplace and the job presented very few completely unforeseen challenges, actually working the internship provided a type of hands-on experience that would otherwise have been unattainable. There’s a certain level of comfort and self-confidence I gained by showing up to work everyday that I couldn’t have obtained in any classroom. The minutiae of the workday (motivating yourself through lulls, gauging coworkers’ moods, scheduling meals, etc.), while certainly different across workplaces, is something that I am happy to have gained exposure to. In the future, I think it will be easier to adjust to workplaces having already done so once.
In conclusion, my time in Madrid, and in particular my time at Pulsar Technologies will remain as the most formative experience of my undergraduate career. Personally, I saw myself grow in confidence. Academically, I gained skills and perspective. Professionally, I benefitted from exposure to a modern workplace. And in general, I gained more than I could ever summarize in a 750-word blog post, or several 750-word blog posts, for that matter. The people I had the pleasure of meeting and working and living with, the places I was able to visit, the tasks I completed and the experiences I forced myself to have will stay with me not just through the rest of my college career, but through the rest of my life. Therefore, translating all the growth I experience abroad to my continued life at Pitt will be easy, as it has been integrated not just into my workplace demeanor, academic approach or personal philosophies, but to the very core of who I am as a person.