Just before I left for this international internship program, I couldn’t picture how I would be feeling by the end of the program. I truly had no idea what to anticipate. When you are entering a new environment (be it a new country or a new workplace) and you have no idea what your setting or your day-to-day life will entail, it can feel overwhelming to sit with this lack of knowledge. For the weeks leading up to leaving for Ireland, I was caught between two recurring thoughts: “I don’t know how I’m going to make it through eight weeks in a foreign country with which I am completely unfamiliar” and “The point of going is that you know nothing, and you will learn when you get there.” Now that I have reached the end of the program, I am amazed at how much I have learned and how much I have experienced in just eight weeks. What is even more amazing is that the changes I have witnessed in myself have not just been limited to one are of my life; rather, I have seen myself develop professionally, academically, and personally in so many ways.
One of the ways that I have developed personally on this program is that I have seen myself become more confident in my abilities to navigate new situations and to be more independent. From the very first day of my travels to Dublin, I have had to become more self-sufficient. On my way to Dublin, my flight from JFK Airport was cancelled at midnight, and I had to wait in the Delta Airlines customer service line until 3:00 AM to receive a voucher for a hotel (and this was only the start of the long process of finding accommodations for the night and the next morning). I do not bring this up here to complain or to make it seem like I had an extremely arduous time at the start of the trip. I bring this up because essentially from the moment I left my house, I entered a new mindset of knowing that I had to look out for myself and rely on my own judgements to get to Dublin and to live in a foreign city for eight weeks. I handled this stressful flight situation, and from there, I continued to face challenges head-on as they came throughout my time in Ireland. More broadly, I have really surprised myself with how I have developed my ability to remain calm in challenging circumstances and to problem solve when faced with unexpected crisis moments. As I come home to the States and as I return to Pitt, I hope to remember this part of my trip, and I hope to apply my practiced and developed problem solving strategies as I begin my final undergraduate year.
This also relates to another thing I have learned during my time in Dublin: it is essential to trust yourself, and listening to yourself is also key for knowing what is best for your mental and physical health. While in Dublin, there were many times when I had different options for how I wanted to spend my weekdays and my weekends. Although it was difficult to plan my weeks and my free time, I learned that it is always better to make plans that will allow me to take care of my mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Over these eight weeks, I have grown in my ability to prioritize my health and to organize a schedule that accommodates all of the things that I feel are important to my happiness.
Professionally, I have learned somuch about what I might want to do after graduating from Pitt. Now that I have gotten a first-hand look at the publishing industry (something I did not have prior to this internship), I have a much greater awareness of what a career in publishing entails. Also, I have an increased awareness of all of the different types of jobs that are available in publishing. Now that I have this understanding of the different routes within traditional publishing that I could pursue as a career, I hope to use this information to guide the rest of my coursework at Pitt and the rest of the opportunities that I pursue back on campus. As I will be starting this upcoming fall semester, I am so much more informed about what my options are job-wise after I graduate. Prior to this internship, I had lots of questions about what a career in publishing could potentially look like for me. Now that I’ve worked abroad in the publishing industry, I have so much more knowledge about the craft and the way that the industry operates at both a micro and macro level. My time at my internship has also reminded me of key skills that are essential to almost every industry – while in Dublin, I have really come to appreciate the importance of clarity and clear communication, the value of being organized and thorough, and the effectiveness of kindness and respect in business.
I have really enjoyed blogging my experience abroad over these past couple of weeks; I hope all of the other International Internship Program students are having smooth conclusions to their trips as well!