A Summer Sip of Reality

By: David

Three Takeaways about the “Real” World

With autumn dawning upon us and classes shifting into gear, it’s a bit nostalgic to rewind back and recall my entire summer (don’t get me wrong, Fall is my favorite season!). During this past summer, I had the opportunity to intern with two different non-profit organizations – New Sector Alliance & Volunteers of America MN/WI and explore the realm of NPOs, which was great as I learned a lot! More importantly though, it gave me a sense of what the real world was like and what it meant to be an “adult”. So here are some random things that occurred to me as I had my “summer sip” of the real world.

A photo by Thomas Lefebvre. unsplash.com/photos/V63oM8OPJSo

Prior to my internship, one thing I prepared immensely for was commuting. Early on, I decided that I would be gas-efficient and commute via bus to and from my host site. Little did I know, a one-way trip to my host site was about an hour and a half! This wasn’t entirely bad as it gave me time to read books or process my work before and after my shift, but again, this took three hours out of my day!

Anyway, if there was one thing that I took away from this commuting experience, it’s to always plan out your commute (unless you’re an expert traveler already). I recall the anxiety I had taking the bus the first day of my internship despite planning my trip. Unlike commuting to campus everyday via the DTA in a small town like Duluth, I was extremely overwhelmed when it came to taking the city bus throughout the Twin Cities area, especially downtown Minneapolis. But regardless of what city you’ll be in when you enter the real world, just be wary of your commute whether it’s knowing your bus stop/bus number, parking/parking prices, roads (one-ways, intersections, etc.), and most importantly, an estimate of time to get to your destination.

Work Environment
As the person I am, I’ve always known that I could never work in a cubicle setting and my summer experience firmly confirmed that for me. To add on, I recognized after my internship that a cubicle wasn’t the only setting I didn’t like, but there were other aspects of a work environment that did and did not mesh well for me. For instance, with Positivity as number one for my Strength, I’m a type of person who constantly needs positivity in the workplace otherwise I feel like I am not meeting my full potential. The environment has a huge impact on me and this can range from the nature of the work, the people (whom were all lovely by the way) at the workplace, work setting, etc. All in all, a lot of the work and environment that I was immersed in was geared towards social service, which isn’t entirely bad, but did not mesh well with my strength to work in an environment with positive energy.  This experience truly opened my eyes and gave me a sense of what type of work to look for in the future and how to mesh my strengths and personality with my work. If there’s one thing I’d like you readers to take away from this, it would be to recognize the type of work, work environment, and people that connect well with your needs, strengths, and personality.

Network! Network! Network!

As the old saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. Throughout my summer, I was able to connect and network with various people ranging from leaders in nonprofits, colleagues from my cohort, supervisors & mentors from my two organizations, and professionals in the nonprofit field. It was a summer that definitely opened my eyes to all sorts of new perspectives as I expanded my network. Recognizing the importance of networking and how it is emphasized in college it was great to see networking and the benefits of networking in action this summer.

A prime example of networking was my supervisor from New Sector Alliance, who is the Program Manager for the Twin Cities branch for New Sector. Part of his work was to bring in guest presenters to lead various trainings for the entire cohort. It was amazing to see individuals from various companies and organizations come in to lead the trainings, which was always interesting. One key aspect that my colleagues and I underwent was getting paired up with a professional mentor. Again, through the power of networking, my supervisor was able to match all of us in the cohort with a professional mentor that met our preferences (we filled out a survey indicating our preferences in a mentor and got matched from there). To conclude, as a college student the concept of networking has always been drilled into me, but I didn’t realize the power behind it until seeing it in action. So again, network, network, network! Whether it’s now or later, keep on networking and expand those social circles. Read all of our networking posts.

Altogether, my summer internship taught me a lot and I’m truly thankful for the experience. The knowledge acquired makes me a lot more confident when I do take my first step into the real world. From professional tips from my supervisors to random life-lessons in the working world, I’m glad I had a taste of the real world. But in all honesty, it sure does feel good to be back on a college campus!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read David’s other posts
Photo source: Unsplash | Thomas Lefebvre

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