Prior to participating in this study abroad program, I lacked any prior internship experience. The prospect of interning for Planting Seeds, an environmental non-profit organization focused on pollinators, initially seemed daunting to me. Even the process of applying for an internship placement was uncharted territory, as I had never before submitted my resume or cover letter for a job position. However, I was fortunate to have acquired valuable skills and knowledge through my previous coursework at Pitt, particularly in Business Communication and Communication for Environmental Professionals, as well as through attending career fairs. These experiences provided me with interview practice, resume review, and other essential components of the job application process. I felt reasonably qualified for the role of an Education & Research Intern due to my recent presentation on pollinators during a summer field research project, as well as my progress in advanced marketing coursework. Drawing upon these experiences and online resources, I was able to expand upon my professional persona. Nevertheless, despite encountering simulated professional settings within the classroom, I knew that I had to face the realities of the “real business world” firsthand.
Adding to the self-imposed pressure of making a good impression, my initial meeting was with both the supervisor and founder of the organization. Fortunately, these highly accomplished women displayed kindness and genuine enthusiasm in getting to know me. During this introductory meeting, we discussed the structure of my weekly schedule and the tasks I would be undertaking in my role. The first day in the office exceeded all my expectations. Situated in a corporate skyscraper with a stunning view of the Sydney Harbour, the office had attentive staff members who readily provided visitors with coffee and biscuits. As I entered the boardroom, I was greeted with welcoming greetings from my colleagues. Throughout that first day of onboarding, I had the opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of Planting Seeds’ mission and its company culture through interactions with my friendly coworkers. Given there was the only person from the United States, I also had the chance to learn about diverse cultures and how they influence communication styles.
Within the same week, I participated in an education session where I interacted with other leaders of the Planting Seeds team, as well as local Australian children. The days spent in public schools compelled me to adapt to new norms, including Australian slang and the higher expectations that Sydneysiders hold for their children. I have since visited four different schools and have thoroughly enjoyed providing hands-on education about pollinators, as the children’s enthusiasm is contagious.
In conjunction with my internship, my internship class has also aided my professional development. I have gained knowledge regarding the psychology supported by scholarly research behind strategic plans and the advantages of immersing oneself in challenging situations. To prepare for our mock interviews, we explored the STAR method, aesthetically appealing resume formats, and effective communication of transferable skills. After engaging in a simulated interview for my dream job, I had the opportunity to reflect on the recorded session and identify areas for improvement in preparation for the real interview.
Through my internship at Planting Seeds and my concurrent internship class, I have been able to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. This experience has not only enhanced my understanding of the environmental non-profit sector but has also provided me with valuable skills that will undoubtedly benefit my future career. Working alongside accomplished professionals and immersing myself in a diverse and vibrant workplace has expanded my perspective and broadened my horizons. I am grateful for the opportunity to intern with Planting Seeds and am excited to continue learning and growing in this unique and rewarding environment.