Confessions of a Summer Intern: What I Learned at My Summer Internship

As I’m writing this, I’m looking at the calendar and it’s finally starting to sink in that I have four days left at my summer internship. Four days! By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on my way back to Wisconsin, a much changed person. I am hoping to sum up for you what I’ve learned from my summer internship. I won’t know the full effect of my summer for some time. Maybe Laura will let me write a follow-up post once I get it all figured out :) . To start the process of reflection, I made a mind map just to get things down on paper. Here’s the result.

Ellen's Internship Mind Map

  • Adventure
  • Challenge: different school, different functional area, away from home for an extended period of time
  • It’s hard to find a good coffee place – when you do, hold on! (Absolutely fell in love with White House Coffee when it opened at the end of June.)
  • Lurking is Learning! (Especially online – read blogs, get on Twitter, etc.)
  • Worked on my photography skills
  • New Friends – I will miss them all!
  • Professional Development
  • TRAVEL!
  • Know Myself Better
  • Gumption
  • Independence
  • Chutzpa: My UWW boss said in an email this summer that I have this. It goes along with gumption.
  • Inspired
  • Questioning – in a good way, to expand my frame of reference
  • Connections: in-person, stronger with people back home, my own blog, Twitter, & Next Generation Student Affairs Blog (I’m now a contributor)
  • Thoughtful
  • Ready for graduation and to start my Student Affairs career (May 2011!!)
  • Even deeper appreciation for nature
  • Thankful
  • Fun!
  • Unable to be repeated…ever.
  • Relaxation: Destressed from the last two years of graduate school.
  • Willingness to take the leap into the unknown
  • Appreciative for the opportunity
  • It’s ALWAYS about the journey!
  • Too short!
  • Sad that it’s ending

That is what I have come up with so far. My experience is far from over though. I have a few projects to wrap up. I have to pack up my entire life, put it in my car and drive home. On my last night in La Grande, my office is throwing a BBQ for me as a way to say goodbye. It’ll be fun and at the same time hard. I was just getting into the groove and I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. However, every destination reached is the starting point for a new journey.

Read Ellen’s Entire Summer Internship Journey:

  1. Meet Ellen Hatfield
  2. Leaping Into Internship

Other Summer Intern Confessions:

Jon McGuff:

Allison Lindsey:

Krista Wolfe:

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Leaping Into Internship

Ellen here with an update from the beautiful state of Oregon. I’m only a few weeks into my Student Affairs internship and I already know that it’s having a profound impact on me.

The internship itself is filled with learning. I am utilizing my research skills and also learning some new skills. I feel that I’ve adapted decently to a new office and also a new living arrangement (living in a residence hall after 5 years of living on my own, plus being almost 2,000 miles away from family).

Hoke Union Building

Hoke Union Building, where I work.

I have had the opportunity for professional development that will help the job search that will be happening next year. My supervisor has given me a great book to read, Beginning Your Journey: A Guide for New Professionals in Student Affairs. It’s a must read for anyone considering or starting a profession in Student Affairs. Navigating any professional field can be tough. It’s nice to know how to navigate through some of it with advice from those who came before you.

I think the profound part of my internship has been the overall experience. Everything from driving across the country, to experiencing nature at its most beautiful, to stepping out of my comfort zone, have all made a difference.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone & Yellowstone River. One of the several awe-inspiring places I’ve encountered this summer.

I know a lot of people say that you should take the leap of faith and do something that scares or tests you. From the experience I have had the past few weeks, I am saying, do it. Take the leap of faith to do something, anything. You never know where you will land after taking the leap. It could be in a valley where you are surrounded by foothills, mountains, and nature everyday as you go to internship. Wherever you end up for an internship, do one and I guarantee you will not regret it. Use an internship not only to test drive a career, but also a test drive of how you want to live your life. You never know where you will land unless you take the leap.

Catherine Creek State Park

Hiking at Catherine Creek State Park. The Wallowa Mountains are in the distance.

In case you missed it…

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Ellen Hatfield

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Ellen Hatfield

Ellen Hatfield En Route to Internship in Oregon

Hello everyone! Before I introduce myself, I just want to thank Laura for letting me share my internship experience this summer with all of you.

Okay, here are the nitty gritty details. My name is Ellen Hatfield. I will be starting my 3rd, and final, year of graduate school in September here at UW-Whitewater. I am earning my Masters of Science in Counseling with emphasis in Higher Education. A year-long internship is required as part of my program and I will be starting at UW-Madison in late August. Most of my experience in higher education centers on career counseling.

To be more marketable, I decided to seek an extra internship experience in another area of Student Affairs. The other goals I had for seeking a summer experience included the opportunity to travel extensively around the country and to see if I really could “go anywhere” for a job. I started my internship search by deciding on a geographic location. My ideal areas were the Northeast U.S. (extending as far south as Washington, D.C. and to Ohio to the west) and the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think I could’ve picked more extreme locations.

I found potential people to contact through a membership directory of a professional organization I belong to. I emailed these contacts, after doing a decent amount of research about their schools, to ask about opportunities that were available or that could be created. I received a mix of positive, negative, and no responses. Before long I had a phone interview and offer from Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, OR. I will be working with the entire Student Affairs division on various projects. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank them enough for creating this opportunity for me.

My anticipation for this experience in Oregon has been building since early March. “Excited” I think is an understatement. Ultimately, I know I will be learning a lot from the people I will be working with and that I have a lot to offer them as well. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with you throughout the summer. If you want an update a little sooner, you can check out my own blog or follow me on Twitter.

Next week, meet Jon McGuff in the Confessions of a Summer Intern series!