Now that I have moved in to a new apartment back in Pittsburgh, it truly feels like a new chapter of my life has begun, especially since its been almost two weeks since being in Dublin. Not only that, but as my senior year approaches at Pitt, it is hard not to take time to reflect on my experiences as a Pitt student, but also now as someone who will soon be entering into the ‘real world’. Each year here at Pitt, freshman, sophomore, and now junior, I have seen myself blossom into the individual I am today, but it would be hard to say that those measly two months abroad did not have a huge impact on all facets of my life.
I would say the theme of the experience as a whole was pushing myself out of my comfort zone: being okay with being a bit uncomfortable. Personally, it was easy for me back here in Pittsburgh to not challenge myself; I would hang out with my same friends, go to the same places, and not explore much out of the South Oakland bubble, staying comfortable in my routine. Going to Ireland was anything but routine. I was not only forced to form new connections and friendships, challenging my ability to put myself out there, but I was also in a fully new environment in which exploring was not only desired, but expected. Everything was go go go since I wanted to see all I possibly could of Ireland due to my limited time there. When I talked to Irish locals, like my coworkers, about all of the places I was exploring, they mentioned how they often times neglected to be a tourist within their own city and country. It made me want to not take my time in Pittsburgh for granted and to go on more adventures with my friends, new and old.
Academically, I think I learned to time manage very well. While I would say I was pretty good at time management prior to the experience, I have never worked a 9-5 while also balancing coursework, blog posts, and papers. Along with wanting to explore on top of work, I often found it difficult to find time and motivation to complete my coursework for the class. However, instead of slacking off and watching TV in moments of little activity, I would instead begin drafting my papers or blog posts, taking advantage of all the free time I had during the day to allow myself to continue exploring Ireland without worrying about procrastinating or stressing about assignments.
Professionally, I feel like I truly came into my own. While I have previously worked in many different positions, including an Information Science research position with a Pitt professor, this was truly my first hands-on IT experience and I could not be more grateful. Prior to the trip, I often struggled to find confidence in my expertise in my major, due to the fact that I was an internal transfer student from Dietrich to SCI with no CS or IS background. However, being able to fully apply my knowledge from class all while receiving positive feedback from my coworkers at UCD IT Services, I was able to build confidence in my abilities and my knowledge of computers and software. I feel like I got a really authentic experience as well, learning to have patience on the job in the face of many (and I mean many) errors and other obstacles.
With all that I have learned over the summer, I plan to bring these skills back to the classroom as well as to my future career. The time management skills I have learned will be extremely valuable in balancing not only schoolwork, but also my social life as well as extracurricular leadership positions. My newfound confidence in and outside of the workplace will help me better network as well as just appreciate the current moment and environment I am in. The communication skills I learned in the workplace will be extremely helpful as I continue working on group projects at Pitt as well as eventually working on a team at my future employer. The patience of dealing with roadblocks in progress will be necessary, especially in a field as unpredictable as IT. I think the experience will also help me narrow down what type of IS job I would like to pursue in the future. I enjoyed working in a smaller, more intimate team, thus I desire that in my future employer, for example.
All in all, as this international chapter of my life story has come to a close, I cannot help but be thankful for the impact it will have on my final chapter here at Pitt.
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