Summer internships are a great way to gain experience outside of school, make a little money, and see or live in new places. It can be a little scary and overwhelming to move somewhere far from home all on your own where you don’t know anyone for the summer, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. This past summer I packed up everything I owned into my little Subaru Forester and drove across the country to work in John Day, Oregon for the Forest Service as a GS-3 Fisheries Technician. Of course living in Oregon was super exciting for me, as was working for the Forest Service, but it was still scary to literally move across the country without the safety of my friends or family for 3 months. Long story short, I ended up having one the best summers and professional experiences ever, but it took some personal development to allow all that to happen. So, I broke it down into three lessons that I learned taking on this experience:
1. Going into a new experience alone can be scary but if you put yourself out there (sometimes out of your comfort zone) you can make friends, learn a lot, and have a lot of fun. Scary isn’t always bad, it’s just unfamiliar and that’s part of the adventure. I know I know I sound like a motivational poster but sometimes you just have to roll with whatever– and it ends up being more fun.
2. Going into a job with little to no experience in that field isn’t always a bad thing, just be honest with your skills and open to learning new things. If you’re applying for a job that you already know how to do well, what’s the point? You’re there to learn and employers understand that so don’t shy away from a position because you feel inexperienced.
3. Things are not gonna be perfect or go right all the time (this applies for life in general but especially for traveling across the country for an internship) but don’t dwell on that because it’ll take up too much of your brainspace and honestly is a waste of time wishing things went differently. Again, just be flexible and roll with it!
I learned so many new skills through my work with the Forest Service, but I really learned more about myself through this experience. Being independent, self-sufficient, working on communication and outreach, and open to new journeys are all important soft skills in pursuing a degree or professional experience. So give yourself a chance to develop those by putting yourself out there, even if it’s scary, because it could be a great experience (if not it can be a great story to tell).