In her final blog of the summer, CAPA blogger Antonia reflects on her internship experience and shares two helpful professional lessons she learned through the experience that can be applied to many situations she'll encounter in her future career.
I remember the week before starting my internship. I was so excited and determined to make this experience the best it could be. I had organized my at-home desk, written a daily schedule for me to follow and thought about all the events I would attend. It was similar to the first day of school, when you tell yourself all the things you would do this year to make it better than the last.
It turns out no level of preparation and organization can fully prepare you for this experience. As determined as I was to follow my schedule and attend every possible event, there were times when I followed all my rules and other times when things got a bit messy. This is not to say that you should not prepare for this experience. It is helpful to plan ahead and set goals, but don’t feel discouraged if these change. I wanted this experience to go as smoothly as possible, but what I didn't realize was that there were meant to be challenges. My remote study abroad was not all about perfect work and smiles all day. It was more about the challenges, how I overcame them and how I learned from them.
For my last blog post, I want to share two lessons I learned throughout my remote study abroad experience. These lessons can be applied to most new experiences and are a good reminder that all you can do is try your best.
Now that I am done with my internship I will be relaxing for a couple of weeks before I start the fall semester. Here I am on a hike.
Don’t strive for perfection… focus on learning
All interns want to do great work and impress their supervisors. It is important to work hard and present the best version of your work, but do not mistake this for perfection. As interns, we are there to learn, and an unavoidable path to learning is making mistakes or presenting work that needs improvement. By setting yourself up to only present perfect work, you are only putting pressure on yourself to achieve something that is many times not possible.
Do not go into an internship or study abroad experience with a mindset of perfection, because you will likely disappoint yourself. Remember this is a learning experience, one that allows you to make mistakes and gives you space to improve.
Enjoy the uncertainty of trying something new
It is nerve racking to think that there is someone on the other side of the world depending on the work you do. How do I not disappoint them? What jobs will I do? What if I don’t know how to do a job? What if I do something incorrectly? These are some of the questions that I had in mind before starting and as I started working.
Do not let these nerves and questions blind you from enjoying the experience. Remind yourself that it is normal to feel nervous. That you are capable of figuring all of these things out. It is not all about work. Talk to your workmates and find tasks that you enjoy completing. Sooner or later, six weeks will have passed and you will wish you had not worried so much.
My six week program went by so quickly that it was sometimes hard to reflect on my achievements in the moment. When I started week six I remember thinking how strange it was that I was so immersed into my work and that six weeks ago I had no idea what I was getting into. Now that I have finished the program and looked back on it, I realize how much I have grown, accomplished, and learned.
Antonia Bignotti was an official CAPA blogger for summer 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Human Biology major from the University of Kansas, she studied abroad and interned remotely in London.
Read more from Antonia's experience.