As I travelled back to the United States from Ireland, I had a lot of time to reflect and think about how I have grown throughout my time abroad. Working an internship in a foreign country was a scary thought before my arrival. I didn’t know what to expect or expectations my co-workers might have of me going into it. It turns out though I had nothing to worry about and it became an unforgettable experience for me; an experience that I will use to solidify a foundation for skills that I can further build upon throughout my future endeavours.
Personally, I have noticed tremendous growth in my people skills. When first sitting in orientation for this trip in the union, I had no idea who anyone sitting around me was. Essentially I was going into this trip blind and hoping for the best. All I had to rely on was my people skills and friendliness to connect with people not only on the program but also in my workplace. When I first arrived into Dublin, it became clear quickly who I wanted to be friends with and spend the remaining 8 weeks with. However these were kids my age so it wasn’t as difficult to find friends on the program as it was to make friends in the office. My office consisted of people around 25 and up. My team was mainly people married with kids except for a few exceptions. Nonetheless, it still posed a challenge initially to befriend my co-workers, even though they were so friendly. The problem I had at first was that I couldn’t understand what they were talking about when they had conversations regarding news or sports in Ireland. I wasn’t keeping up with it nor did I understand how they worked so I couldn’t really engage in those conversations. This didn’t discourage me though from wanting to be friends with my co-workers so I found different outlets that I could relate to with them. One of my co-workers, I found out early on, followed American football to a certain extent. This allowed me to connect with him on a more personal level and helped forge a stronger relationship with him. Soon after this I found outlets with other co-workers, and quickly started becoming friends with them. This all relates to growth of my people skills because I was able to connect with people that came from different foreign backgrounds and outside my age range, all relatively new for myself.
Academically, I have noticed growth in hard skills that I can further apply at school. A hard skill I’ve seen improve was my PowerPoint skills. As said in one of my previous posts, for one of my projects at my internship, I had to compile all the proposals revolving around the upcoming Women’s World Cup or the Rugby World Cup, and anything summer sports related if it didn’t fall within those two events. I was given PowerPoint templates and past PowerPoint presentations to go off of, and I learned a lot of new formatting techniques and ideas to use that I applied to the presentation I made for my team. The PowerPoints they gave me were extremely helpful in the brainstorming process and helped me navigate throughout my creation process. Another hard skill that I’ve noticed improved are my Excel skills. A project I had before the client project I just mentioned was using Excel to compile data together for one of the team members. Throughout this process, I was able to improve my Excel skills and my analytical skills within Excel. With my improved skills, I was able to organize the data and analyze it to find trends, statistics, and more to share with my team member. I know the growth in my hard skills from this internship will be transferable to the rest of my academic career at Pitt.
Professionally, I have noticed growth in my soft skills. Specifically my communication skills have improved the most. Like I said before, I have noticed as time went on, I was able to be clearer and more understanding with my messages when communicating with my team. This applied mostly to utilizing Outlook to email the clients and utilizing Teams to communicate with my team any responses. Throughout the internship, I noticed myself becoming more adaptable to the dialect and the way people message each other in Ireland. This skill of communication among internal employees and external employees I feel will be valuable and transferable in the U.S.
The key takeaway I learned from this program and that I intend to bring back to Pitt as well as my future career is that people notice the little things. Throughout my internship I made sure to show my co-workers that I was there to help them with whatever they needed. Even if it was a simple message in the morning to my supervisor about his agenda for the day, I made sure my team knew I was a resource they could rely on. In doing so, I feel my team respected and utilized me more as time went on. I plan to bring back this understanding to not only Pitt but also any future careers, considering how beneficial it was for me in Ireland.