We’ve made it to the last week!
It’s a bittersweet ending. On one hand, I am in a slight state of disbelief that this program and my time in Dublin is ending. It feels like the time has simultaneously flown by and expanded to fill these eight weeks to the brim. I believe this is the result of the personal and professional growth I have experienced these past two months. On the other hand, I am ready to return home to my family and friends.
This program has been exciting, informative, and challenging. Being sick for a significant portion of it was hard, but at least it gave me confidence that I am more independent than I thought. Gaining a deeper level of independence was something I wanted to learn through this program, I just didn’t know that was how I would have to go about it!
This past weekend, I went to Amsterdam, which was a really wonderful experience. As different as Dublin feels from back home, Amsterdam feels even more foreign. The architecture, culture, and language is so unlike anything I have experienced in the US. As someone who is an advocate of sustainability, the wide array of public transportation was inspiring. I was a fan of their tram system in particular; it was a great way to not only get to a destination efficiently, but also see the city while you do.
Upon my return, I began the last week of working at my internship. On the heels of the end, this has been a time of reflection on the work I have done.
In my internship, being a successful employee means listening, both personally and professionally. I came into this program knowing that in any internship, this was the primary objectiv e, to listen and learn. So while this may not be unique to my internship, or the “industry” my internship is a part of, it is no less true and relevant.
The successful completion of every task I did in my internship hinged on my ability to understand and respond to direction. For example, when crafting newsletters for distribution in my supervisor’s political ward, it wasn’t my ability to write and present information that was tested, but rather my ability to write and present that information based on my supervisor’s direction. Sometimes, these directions were extensive, which meant I had to not only listen but actively listen, which for me meant taking notes, asking follow-up questions, and reviewing to ensure I understood what was expected of me.
I also learned that listening and conversing with my supervisor about things unrelated to work was of equal importance, because it was during these times that we built trust and confidence with each other. This was critical given the fact that in my internship, I worked out of my supervisor’s house, so it was just us in our “office”. Getting to know each other out of the confines of our work made our working relationship much better, because it allowed for more free communication concerning what we were doing. For example, whenever I made a mistake in my work, I wasn’t frazzled when my supervisor pointed it out, because I knew she was trying to help me.
In the United States, success is often defined by working yourself to the brink to reap the most benefits possible, which often results in feeling that there is always more you could do or could have done. During a typical day when I’m at Pitt, if I am not wiped by the end after studying, I feel that I did not reach my full potential. Interning in Ireland has given me a more nuanced perspective on this. In my experience of professional success in Ireland within my small organization, success is defined by good work and progress instead of rapid completion. Most days, my supervisor ends the workday by running through what we accomplished and made progress on. Instead of lamenting incompletion of what we could have done, she focuses on what we did do, which leaves us both with a feeling of accomplishment as we end the day and look towards the next. When I return to Pitt in the fall, I hope I can be as positive about my progress as I was during this internship.
In these next few days, my supervisor and I will finish writing two leaflets and send them off to a graphic designer to be prepared for publication. Until then, I am looking forward to the EUSA farewell reception and the chance to say goodbye to all those I’ve met on this program.