Looking back at my experience in Dublin, I realize how much I have grown this summer throughout this internship program. After fully relaxing from months of talking to new people, navigating an office workplace, visiting incredible places, and overall making a new life abroad, I now come back to reflect. Personally, I believe I grew in that I learned how to handle a different set of social contexts. Connecting with the other American college students living in Dublin who came from a variety of schools felt like doing freshman year again; we formed huge groups so we could handle the adjustment together, and as we found closer friends, the groups devolved. Knowing what we all already learned from freshman year allowed us to just enjoy each other’s company. In terms of interacting with people from Ireland, many did not understand American slang or speaking patterns. I had to adopt vocabulary and speak slower sometimes to accommodate their language inequalities. By proving to myself that I can make friends in unfamiliar territory, I know I can do the same in the US if I just strike up a conversation; there’s no reason to be nervous about the outcome. When I am in a foreign country, I can also employ the same tactics to adapt.
Academically, I definitely improved time management and organization skills. In terms of controlling how I use my time, my daily progress at work was dependent on how many calls I made and emails I sent. The only real set expectation I had was keeping up with the customer forms my boss would send me to enter into the spreadsheet. Due to the independent nature of my internship, I marked my own milestones I wanted to achieve each day to match expectations, which required a high level of personal initiative to keep myself on track. This way, I did not have to cram all day on Friday to make up for any procrastination that limited my productivity for the week. Keeping myself accountable with a to-do list was an essential daily ritual for me. Seeing as I have carried that over into my life in the States before school has even started, that will be a keynote of all future years of my college career. Polite and professional written communication, especially when it comes to email, will also be crucial in developing strong relationships with mentors and professors. Maintaining a neat inbox and writing clear and concise emails that get the point across in a polite way will be instrumental in asking for extra help or taking advantage of any opportunity that is sent my way.
For professional growth, I notice a number of changes that I think will affect the way I work for my whole career. I had experience working long hours during the day and late into the night as a waitress, but this was my first 9-5 and my first job where I was sitting all day. It was also the first job I had with a true commute, not just a ten minute drive and five minute parking allotment. Being able to figure out Dublin’s bus system and know which buses will take me which direction was an important step in realizing that I could figure out a way to get to and from work in any city or country. Having time in the morning to either relax, fuel up for the day, or think about my daily objectives was valuable to me in pointing me in a successful direction for the day. I also loved the perspective the Irish seemed to have regarding the work-life balance. Instead of trying to combine the two areas of life, it separates them; work in the office, do whatever else when you’re off. In the US, there is a level of integration between work and everything else, which feels more efficient since more brain power is spent on work. In reality, it traps Americans into constantly thinking about their jobs and what they could get ahead on or catch up on when they’re at home, on vacation, or at the grocery store. This challenged how I approach work, and I see myself carrying this “anti-multitasking” idea back to Pitt with me.
This internship program made me wonder how college and future career will be influenced by what I discovered in Ireland, and how I will attempt to incorporate them into my life. I will better be able to connect with people and converse more effectively, communicate my thoughts and requests via email, and separate my life from my work. Working here gave me the confidence I needed to enter future companies and just continue my education at Pitt. I will keep mastering the skills I improved upon while in Dublin, and begin to develop new ones that will prepare me for my career after graduation. I am interested to see how far this internship experience takes me.