“Find Out Who You Are, And Do It On Purpose”- Dolly Parton
This summer I was given the opportunity to represent UM in Washington D.C working for the UM in DC Program. It was probably one of the best things I ever did for myself for so many different reasons. First, let me give you some background on me.
I was born and raised in Miami, FL and have never lived anywhere else. Still living with my family and being a transfer student to UM, I never really had the “freshman experience” most of you have had. I’ve never moved into a dorm, lived on campus, or even had a roommate. Coming from a Hispanic family, it is pretty well known that you do not leave your family or roots and go elsewhere.
Well, I broke this tradition, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
For all of you interns who are now returning to UM for the exciting fall semester, you probably know how I feel right now. As I write this on my flight back home, there are a few tips I can think of for those of you who plan to venture out alone in the next year.
Tip #1: DO IT.
Don’t think twice, just do it. Besides the fact you are gaining excellent experience for your future (and resume), you are also going to get to know so much more about yourself. Every experience in your life is for a reason. Nothing made me more nervous than the fact that I would not be around my family and would have to independently figure everything out by myself when I arrived to DC. I mean who was going to do my laundry? ME? I will never forget the moment I opened the email telling me I had gotten the job, and wanted to scream and write back “nevermind, I’m staying here!.” Stepping out of your comfort zone is so hard, but once you do, you wish you would have done it sooner.
Tip #2: Get to know your supervisor.
Your supervisor is going to be the person you rely on for the duration of your internship. Remember that you are there to work and they are your boss, but they are also human beings and probably have a couple pretty interesting stories to tell you. They have been in your shoes before and can give you the best advice on just about anything and especially about your career path. Adela, my supervisor, became way more than just that. She was always there to help me with whatever I needed (work or personal) and gave the best advice around. HEY ADELA! MISS YOU! You will learn to appreciate your supervisor so much more when you realize they are just like you and me! Also, who doesn’t love a personalized recommendation letter?
Tip #3: Explore the city you’re in.
You will probably never be back there. Indulge yourself in the sights and wonders of your temporary home. Don’t be scared to sit at a table in a crowded restaurant and eat dinner alone or go to a movie theatre by yourself. Wherever you go, be it New York or a little town in Missouri, get to know it. Get lost on the bus or metro and learn who and what are out there. You never know who you will interact with and stepping out is the first and hardest step. I will never get tired of going to the National Mall and doing the most touristy things that make DC the amazing place it is. I also made DC my own by finding my favorite spots along the way; those are the best moments, becoming YOU.
Tip #4: Work Hard. Play Hard.
Remember you are where you are for one reason: You have a job. This is the biggest priority and needs to be taken seriously. It’s such an amazing feeling to work so hard on something and see it accepted and appreciated by others. Whether it’s the smallest things like organizing an excel sheet or having to present your marketing pitch for world renowned chefs and it be the only one they select, it still feels amazing. This is when you know you are doing it right. Give your job 100% and you will be rewarded. Nothing else I’ve mentioned will be possible if you don’t take your work seriously. What about that recommendation letter you so badly want? You wont get it if you are coming to work and not putting your best foot forward.
By the end of it all, you will wish you had just one more week to enjoy the city and your co-workers; trust me. So I’m telling you: Step out of your comfort zone, find yourself, and give 100% from the beginning and you will have an experience you will never forget. Good Luck!