Entering the adult world is scary. In my first year at St. Lawrence, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, let alone what I wanted to do with my life (which was okay!). As the year passed by, I got an itch—the itch. The one that overcomes you and tells you to move out of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown. It was then that I saw a poster laying in the Student Center. On it was a perfectly placed ad—“Apply to work as a Summer Admissions Intern!”
Feeling inspired, I applied but I was nervous. After an interview process involving both faculty and students, I waited for my answer. The weekend passed slowly, something that normally never happens. I knew that this was important to me. Soon enough Monday morning came, and I was opening up my little mailbox to a letter saying that I had been chosen to be a summer intern for Admissions at St. Lawrence.
The summer of 2020 was full of unexpected events, and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to take part in the internship I’d spent so much time thinking about. But St. Lawrence, always looking out for us, allowed six interns to work remotely!
I learned a lot during my time as an Admissions intern. Some of the things I learned were deeper than others, and some might make you laugh and shake your head as if to say, “You didn’t already know how to do that?!” Nonetheless, it was an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. An internship at St. Lawrence will teach you more than I can sum up in one blog post, so here are just ten things I learned.
1. How to use technology.
I know. It sounds really silly. I was always one of those people who thought I knew a lot about technology. It turns out, my knowledge was very slim—specifically in the Microsoft Office department. Whether you’re a complete beginner or very tech-savvy, an internship will guide you into how an office environment uses different programs. A large portion of my internship revolved around Microsoft Excel. I had learned the basics in high school, even made charts in my First-Year Program, but when I sat down with my supervisors, I learned tricks that I never would’ve learned in the classroom. Now, I’m happily proficient in a number of programs that will be necessary for me to use in the future. I think that makes up for the silliness.
2. You’ll have likes and dislikes.
Something you’ll learn rather quickly interning at St. Lawrence is what you enjoy doing and what you don’t. Personally, I discovered that the data portion of the internship wasn’t my strongest suit and that instead, I would much rather interact with prospective students. Because I expressed this early on, I was able to collaborate with the social media team and join panels to tell students about my experience at St. Lawrence. It’s important to learn what you like and dislike because it will only help you in the future.
3. Being the youngest person in the office isn’t so bad!
It’s daunting being a part of an office as is, but being the youngest person in an office can be a little nerve-wracking. I spent the week before my Admissions internship worrying that I might not be good enough for the position and that my knowledge of the department itself wouldn’t be up to par. I say this now: don’t dwell on that feeling. As soon as I had my first meeting, I realized all of my worrying was for nothing and I learned to embrace my age. You have a completely different perspective, and it will be well utilized.
4. Speak up for yourself.
Confidence is key in any work environment, but before I interned at St. Lawrence I always felt like a shy person. Now, I know that I am very much not, and I get to thank SLU for that. I spoke in front of large groups, had personal interviews with faculty, and did a large data project that required a lot of communication. All these things would’ve had me running for the hills and I’ll admit, I was beyond nervous for them in the moment. As I look back now, however, I can see that they shaped me as a person and let me clearly express who I really am. For that, I am eternally grateful.
5. How to adjust to a non-academic workload.
My internship at SLU was my first real job. I had other jobs before, but it was never in an office with adult co-workers. During the school year, I was used to working hard for my grades—reading, writing, giving presentations. The expectation is different with a non-academic workload and I learned that pretty quickly. The adjustment will take time, don’t worry about that—you’ll get the swing of things. I did find that writing things out in a planner helped me exponentially and that asking questions can help everyone get on the same page. It will feel strange at first, but you’ll get through it and learn a lot!
Adaptability is key in a work setting. I didn’t expect that it was going to be as important as it was. During that summer, there were multiple times where either something went wrong or had to be changed in one of our projects. When it’s something that you’ve worked hard on, it can be disappointing to let it go. Being able to quickly adjust in situations like this is a very good skill to master and it will help you in the long run, even if it does hurt just a little bit.
7. How to represent an institution that means a lot to you.
It’s no surprise that I love St. Lawrence. Of all the places on this lovely earth, our campus sits high up on my list of favorites. One of my biggest fears while interning was that I might not represent the school correctly, especially when it came to social media and interacting with prospective students. I soon learned that it’s difficult to misrepresent a place like SLU because we value uniqueness. It’s more about fully understanding the mission of an establishment and I feel very lucky to be a part of a place that embraces each individual.
It seems simple. Our teachers have told us that it's important to be professional since we were little. It’s not that you can’t have fun, but you are expected to be kind and respectful of anyone you come into contact with. On top of that, timeliness and appropriate attire are also very important. As a fun add-on, I exchanged my t-shirts for blouses and my shorts for skirts and pants. But hey, it was an opportunity to expand who I am and what’s in my closet!
9. You are capable!
I stressed for weeks before I started my summer position at St. Lawrence. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I didn’t understand something or messed up an important assignment? If you have any of those doubts, send them away! One of the greatest things I learned interning at SLU was that I am strong and completely capable of anything I put my mind to. That little voice in your head can question all it wants, but at the end of the day, you are an independent and able individual with so much to offer.
10. Find a path into the future.
The most important thing I gained from interning at St. Lawrence was a peek into the future. Not all college students get to take part in internships at their universities. By starting to explore career possibilities at a young age, we can use all of the skills learned to find opportunities that make us happy. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters—that you’re happy. St. Lawrence values that more than anything.