After enjoying a few weeks at home with family and friends I’ve taken some time to reflect on my experience over the summer. Going into this program I was very nervous and wasn’t sure about the choice to do an internship abroad. But looking back at it now I think that was the best choice I could’ve made for this summer. Being in a different country forced me out of my comfort zone in many ways from figuring out the public transportation system on my own to grocery shopping in a different language. While these tasks seem pretty simple to learn, they were added on to being alone in a new country trying to figure everything else out. After getting used to the basics came the first day of work which in and of itself was a challenge. It was my first day working an eight hour workday and the first time I met my boss, went to my office, and really figured out what I would be doing over the summer.
Once the first few weeks were over I definitely felt much more settled into my routine and my environment and was starting to get to know the other people on my program, things really started to feel like home. As this started to happen I began to notice that I was more eager to do things on my own and felt much more comfortable than when I arrived in Prague. Though my new found confidence was great and was a goal of mine for this trip I did have bouts of homesickness throughout the program. It would hit when I would see my friends together at home or there was a family event I couldn’t attend, but to help with this I usually tried to get a group of friends together or get out and do something in Prague and remind myself how happy I was to be there.
In terms of professional growth, this program afforded me the opportunity of my first internship which was valuable in many ways. First, professional experience is a pivotal part of any resume as you leave college and try to find a job in the working world. Second, this internship, for me, was with a company that is international but also has branches in the United States. Having international experience with the company gave me a glimpse into the global business side of operations and what that means. It allowed me opportunities to deal with customs agreements, different challenges, and requirements that come with different countries, and transportation that crossed multiple borders. Getting this unique experience will elevate my internship when I start applying to jobs and I look forward to using that as an advantage. Lastly, my internship was in the logistics department of my company. This is the type of department I want to be working in moving forward and this internship really solidified that for me. Also, my company was on the smaller side with limited different departments so the logistics department wore many hats and handled many responsibilities. I think being in a smaller company really helped me get a well-rounded view of the company and how all of the operations run, not just specifically my department.
As far as academics are concerned I believe that my internship will translate back into the classroom as I move into classes more focused on my supply chain major. Now that I have had hands-on experience with many of the concepts that we talk about I think I will be able to understand better the examples we go through in class. In addition, I also think my academics prepared me quite well for this internship. Several times I talked to my boss she would compliment many of the skills I had learned through classes like quantitative methods or operations management. I knew that when I had gotten into more business-specific classes some of the concepts would translate but I even surprised myself when I was handed a task and could pretty much figure out what was going on without asking many questions.
Overall my largest takeaways from this program and my whole experience abroad are to put yourself out of your comfort zone and to be confident in yourself. I didn’t think to apply to this program and actually following through with it would put me that out of my comfort zone but as the day to leave approached, I found myself getting more and more nervous about it. But, without feeling a little uncomfortable, I never would’ve grown as I have over the past two months. In terms of confidence its a challenge for me to always be confident in the work I complete or the decisions I make, but I think that was one thing that hindered my work this summer. I would tell my boss I had completed something and would be waiting for her to look it over expecting she would come back and tell me I had done something wrong. If I had just had a little more confidence in the work I’d done I think my boss wouldn’t have felt the need to check everything as much as she had and would’ve possibly given me some different things to work on.
In the end, I’m so happy I had this experience over the past two months and can’t wait to get back to school to start my senior year!