By Bea Lanzi
The weather is getting a bit warmer and most of us are starting to think about the great, fun things we’ll be doing this summer. From time at the beach, to backyard cookouts and smores by the firepit, there’s certainly plenty to do when the weather is warm and the days are long.
Yes, summer is certainly glorious. Every day just feels a little more perfect when filled with sunny days and breezy nights. With the extended sunlight, there’s also more time to do the things we love. When days are longer, there just seems to be more enthusiasm and more energy to do more things.
So, with all this enthusiasm and energy, it’s also a great time to schedule in some learning and gain useful skills. Summer is a great time to try something new, learn some new skills, gain some knowledge. And, if you’re a college student, it’s a perfect time to think about an internship.
An internship is an educational experience that provides an opportunity to learn and grow, an opportunity to meet educational goals and learning objectives. It’s also a great way to learn about yourself and what really inspires you. When I entered college, I started as a communications major. My dream was to work in radio. So, I was beyond excited when I secured an internship with a local radio station. I prepared for days. I carefully selected professional clothes, a scholarly looking notebook and thought about all the wonderful things I would learn. I still remember the excitement I felt when I walked into the station for my first day.
My excitement was short lived as I realized the work was not what I really wanted to do. It was good work, but just not what I wanted to do. I was heartbroken, what would I possibly do? I was involved in student government and a friend casually suggested that maybe I would like to get involved in public service. I thought about it and pursued an internship in policy and communications. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, after only a few short weeks I realized that I really enjoyed what I was doing. I was learning a lot and enjoying it at the same time. The experience prompted me to add political science as a second major to my studies. I graduated as a double major and earned an MA in Political Communication in graduate school. I ran for public office a few months later and started a twenty year tenure serving in the RI State Legislature.
That’s the thing about internships- sometimes you learn about yourself while you’re learning other important skills. Internships help develop and foster concrete, transferable skills. You’ll build upon the ideas and theories learned in the classroom in a professional environment. For example, you might gain computer skills, research and policy analysis skills, writing and so many other talents along with industry protocols and procedures. You’ll also have the opportunity to improve upon those important soft skills including problem solving, collaboration, adaptability, self-motivation and communication.
I am so very lucky that today I work with interns and I see first-hand how an internship offers the opportunity to learn in a professional work place. Interns are immersed in the working environment and can observe and participate in the actual day to day experience and gain a true appreciation of the requirements and job responsibilities. Because of this, internships provide valuable experience and real world accomplishment that can be added to a resume. Some internships will provide the opportunity to create projects that can add to a portfolio of achievements. Other internships may also allow for earning college credit.
Of course, if you’re not in college, there are still other ways to schedule in learning this summer. I’m looking through online catalogues and plan to take up a class. There are so many different topics, from new cooking methods to photography to history and many, many more. The options are endless and so interesting. I’m looking forward to tackling a new subject and learning something new. I’m excited about making my dinner conversation captivating when I can share my new found knowledge with loved ones.
Yes, I definitely think learning can be a year round and life long, enjoyable, enriching experience. So, whether you’re interested in a summer internship or a class on a subject that has always intrigued you, I say go for it! After the summer months have ended, you’ll not only have a tan, but an array of newly learned skills. And, I bet there’ll still be plenty of time to enjoy those smores by the firepit.