Learning what I didn’t know I didn’t know

Now that I’ve officially been in Dublin for a full month, I really feel like I can look back at the beginning of the program and see how much I’ve developed, in both a professional and a personal sense. Over the past couple of days, I’ve had some Zoom meetings for the clubs and organizations that I’m involved in at Pitt. As a director for Pitt Program Council, I have to attend meetings and talk with my supervisors throughout the summer so that our organization is ready for all of the programming that we have planned in the fall. It’s been really nice getting to check-in with all of the people I know back at Pitt, and “seeing” campus through my Zoom screen has really made it clear to me how many new and enriching experiences I’m having abroad that I will be able to bring back with me when I return to campus in the fall. Prior to coming to Dublin to start this internship program, I wasn’t sure what my internship experience would hold or if I had really made the right decision choosing to work abroad in Dublin. Now that I’ve gotten comfortable at my internship site and have lived abroad for a full month, I know that I made the right choice picking this program. I also know that this internship experience has been invaluable for answering some of the career questions that I’ve had for a while and for helping me develop my future career goals.

One of the “soft” skills that I’ve developed during my time in Dublin is practicing better communication. Both when navigating the city or when learning how to do things at my internship site, I’ve really tried to be concise and effective with how I communicate and with how I ask questions to get more information. Clarity in communication saves a lot of time and solves a lot of issues before they can turn into serious problems. Because there are a lot of deadlines in publishing, a misunderstanding between people (over email or in-person) can delay an assignment or prevent it from getting completed correctly. If something is delayed by even a few hours or a day, this delay can push every other part of production back. Since starting my internship in Dublin, I’ve definitely improved the clarity and conciseness of my communication, and I’ve become even more cognizant of the potential ambiguities in the things I write and say to my coworkers.

In terms of the “hard” skills that I’ve gained at my internship, I’ve learned more about different types of design and editing software. At my internship, I work daily with the Adobe suite and Canva. Prior to the start of my internship, I had never really worked with any of these editing tools and platforms. Now, I feel comfortable adding notes to and editing PDFs, and I’ve learned a lot about how to design social media posts and graphics on Canva. I’m really grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to become proficient with these applications at my internship, because I know how ubiquitous and universal these applications are in a lot of other industries outside of publishing. Now that I feel comfortable using these applications, I will be even more equipped for jobs that I might want to pursue after college. Because this knowledge is so transferable and applicable to so many other fields, I now have a new skill set that can help qualify me for other jobs that I might want to try out or explore outside of publishing.

My internship has also helped me with my career management process. Through this internship, I’ve learned so much about the publishing industry. This new knowledge is definitely helping me as I try to figure out what I want to do after college. Getting an inside look at how a publisher functions on a day-to-day basis has been invaluable for me; before starting this internship, I had only heard about the publishing industry from professors who had experienced it first-hand. Now, I’ve experienced what it would be like to have a job in this field, and I’ve gotten to learn which parts of the industry that I enjoy and could see myself being a part of and which parts of publishing that I don’t think I’d want to pursue as a long-term career. Having this publishing internship has also showed me some other careers and types of employment that are tangential to the publishing industry (in other words, jobs that involve books and book production that aren’t necessarily directly tied to a corporate publishing house). This has also been incredibly helpful for my personal job search and developing my post-graduation plans. I knew that living in Dublin for these eight weeks would definitely show me things that I had never knew existed, but I didn’t anticipate this also applying to career options and opportunities. I think this speaks to a broader lesson I’ve learned while being abroad: everything you’d want to know is already around you, you just have to take the steps to actively look for and engage with the things you’re seeking.