As I am writing this blog post, it has been about a week and a half since I finished up my internship at D-Light Studios and left Ireland. Over time I have realized that I am someone that does best with a consistent routine and habits, so the switch to my usual life at home felt odd after living at University College Dublin for two months. During my last week there, my mom, dad, and sister came to visit, and when the program ended, we visited London and Paris together. Living in Ireland and visiting Europe in general has been an extremely valuable experience for me, and I would not trade it for anything,
During my time abroad, I feel as though I have grown personally, professionally, academically, and learned many lessons about myself and the world in general. To begin, one important aspect of growth that I have seen in the past few months is cultural awareness. Prior to this summer, I had not done much travelling. I have always been interested in travelling to new places and learning about different cultures, but I never really had the opportunity before this. I’m from Buffalo, so I had been to Canada, but living thirty minutes away the cultural differences are pretty minimal for the most part. However, through the International Internship Program, I was immediately placed into a new cultural framework, in a location I had never been to before. Through talking to my coworkers and exploring Ireland with my friends, I became accustomed with the country’s intricacies over time. This was an important step for me, and it made it easier for me to learn about and adapt to the differences I experienced in other places like Amsterdam, London, and Paris. I am sure that this experience will remain useful in my future travels and possibly even international business meetings. On top of living in a foreign country, I know that working in such an environment will prove extremely valuable in the future. I will dive deeper into my work experience later, but some important soft skills I will carry with me going forward are improved adaptability, cross cultural communication skills, and problem solving skills.
To continue, I think that the way the International Internship Program was structured helped me improve upon some important personal skills. Some of these have been helpful in my everyday life and I know they will be very useful in an academic setting. I had a number of long term tasks at my workplace throughout the course of the program, which I had to balance with the IIP administered tasks, like weekly blog posts, discussion posts, and the mid-point essay. I also had to balance such assignments with weekend travels and other events going on during the week. Life can be very busy, especially with school and work, so figuring out the best way to space out, schedule, and work on tasks in a timely manner will always be valuable skill to have. My work schedule also helped me get accustomed to waking up earlier and having more productive days overall. I’ve noticed that since leaving Dublin and returning to the United States I’ve kept these habits going. Living on the University College Dublin campus, I feel as though I got more experience living independently as well. During my freshman and sophomore years at Pitt, I lived in dorms with a meal plan. Unlike my previous residences, my suite at UCD had a full stove, and I did not have an option for a meal plan on the campus. While I wasn’t necessarily happy about this at first, it ended up being a great change, especially when considering that I will be living in my first apartment this year. I needed to start shopping for groceries, budgeting my weekly expenses, and cook more independent meals than ever before.
Finally, over the course of my International Internship Program experience, I honed my professional skills as well. Working in a small office, with only three coworkers, I worked on a variety of tasks at D-Light Studios. I improved upon certain hard skills by making spreadsheets, doing business research, designing a brochure, and working on search engine optimization for the website. Throughout this time, I was simultaneously working on soft skills like communication. My coworkers and I often bounced ideas off each other, and I was in contact with a number of local community centers. One small task I was assigned was selling some older equipment online, which also improved my negotiation skills. Overall, my time in Dublin helped give me a new perspective of the world, while also giving me valuable opportunities for personal and professional growth.