Well, the past three weeks or so have been entirely consumed by freshman orientation here at MIT.
SO, as my 19th-straight-day in a row comes to a close, I would like to dedicate this month’s post to reflecting upon my experience with MIT Orientation and my summer internship experience in general! (Bear with me as my brain is quite a bit fried… I barely know what day it is!)
I started at UAAP (Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming) in May as their summer graduate intern. Among the many projects I worked on was designing booklets/flyers, scanning and shredding old files, and helping prep for freshman orientation which, as can be expected, took forever to arrive and ended quite abruptly.
I met many people from many different offices and, funnily enough, re-met a handful of people it turns out I already knew! (a current classmate, a former graduate intern from an office at my undergrad, and a former admissions admin from my undergrad!)
I also get to stay in the office through the fall semester, which is super exciting! But since the first half of this internship in complete I think I’ll keep it simple and share with you all a short list of significant things I learned/observed/experienced this summer.
5 Take-Aways from this Summer (in no particular order):
1. Freshman Orientation = Sneakers All Day Err’Day Seriously. And what I mean by that is not only the importance of proper arch support, but the importance of self-care in general from the small to the not so small. As much as I loved wearing flip flops and eating sandwiches+chips+cookies+soda every day, I probably should have thought a little more carefully about how I was taking care of myself. One day during orientation was particularly difficult to get through and eventually I realized it was because I hadn’t drank any water in the past two days. This take-away is, of course, applicable to everyday life, not JUST orientation. As SA pros, the topic of self-care is an ever-present one, which is why I thought it important and relevant to include in my list. Also, backup deodorant. Always.
2. Anything Can Be A Transferrable Skill As I think I’ve mentioned, I hold a BA in Graphic Design. I am not pursuing that particular career path, obviously, but if I had a nickel for every time someone told me my degree would come in very handy in higher ed, I’d have a good handful of nickels. And I definitely earned them this summer. I worked on so many design projects and opened Adobe programs more times than I can count for the first time since I graduated in 2011. Not just graphic design, though. I’m not very good at bragging about or talking up myself (cover letters, ugh), and because of that I have a hard time translating my experiences into transferrable skills/experience. The reason I include this in my list is because at times I feel like I really haven’t done anything useful or valuable but even on those days where you don’t think you’ve accomplished anything, remember that you HAVE, in fact, and that it will probably help you in the future.
3. ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING. I’ve really, always felt this way, but I think it’s an important reminder for everyone. Especially during orientation week when days are long and tough and all you need to do is just push through. Positivity breeds positivity just as negativity breeds negativity. And that includes sarcasm and complaining! When it comes down to it, YOU are the keeper of your attitude and it’s up to you to choose whether you’re going to pull through with a smile, or drag yourself down with a frown.
4. There’s no room for perfectionism in higher ed. This is a big one for me. I tend to be very detail-oriented which means I notice all the details, I need all the details, and I have to cover all the details. Details are certainly important but it is unrealistic to be SO detailed that it slows you down. Letting go is a lesson I continue to learn and have definitely learned so far this summer.We all need to account for wiggle room, adapting, and going with the flow . I tend to be a little too dependent sometimes, which stems from my need for details
5. Don’t judge a book by its cover – things are not always what they seem. Before I started my internship at MIT I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in. I imagined MIT and all its students/admins as exactly what someone might imagine MIT students/admins to be like. Me, with my art degree, tattoos, and affinity for bad jokes could never be comfortable around the world’s most elite and intelligent college students – How could I ever relate or even talk to these math and science nerds? The truth is, MIT students are exactly like any other college students. They are awkward, athletic, social, not so social, funny, strange, personable, nervous, shy, friendly, involved, stressed, busy, and anything you could ever think of. And so are the faculty and staff! MIT is a truly unique, yet similar motley melting pot. I can’t remember who said it to me in my first weeks when I expressed my fear of not fitting in, but I’ll never forget what they said: “Everyone fits in at MIT.” Such a welcoming message for a newcomer, and I get it. It’s true for anywhere and anyone – There’s a place for everyone and a someone for every place. Don’t generalize.
I definitely learned much more than what I’ve posted here, and there is much more to come this semester (WHICH STARTS ON TUESDAY) but I don’t think my brain is capable of any more thought. For those of you also beginning classes in the next week, good luck!! 🙂
Until next time!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dean Kenneth Elmore on Student Engagement Efforts