My summer internship in between my 2 years of graduate school ended months ago. I spent the summer of 2013 in Gunnison, Colorado, at an ACUHO-I internship. I was working at Western State Colorado University in Residence Life & Conference Services. It was the best summer I ever had and it was in one of the most beautiful places. Along with all of the fun I had by the river, running, spending time with new friends, and hiking I also learned a lot of lessons that I am still learning from 15 months later. I often think about these lessons when I need some motivation or a boost of energy.
5 Things I Learned in Gunnison
1. Being in a new place is a great way to learn – I flew out to Colorado without knowing a soul, and only having talked to my supervisor, Kristen, once on the phone. Being brand new was a great way to learn about a new town, a new campus, and myself.
2. Feeling a little bit lonely is good for the soul- There were days when I was lonely. I had an apartment to myself and not a lot of friends. I was used to being surrounded by my cohort almost every second of every day but I learned to love the me-time. It was so refreshing and I continue to remind myself today to take time for myself.
3. Learning a different campus is essential- Going from Iowa State University to Western Illinois University did not give me much experience on a smaller campus. Western State Colorado University gave me that, and so much more! I was working in conference services, but I was also to help with RA training and learn more about residence life. I was able to see what student life is like at a smaller campus and that impacted my job search. I learned about a totally different type of institution and the many hats that professionals there wear.
4. You can make friends anywhere- I made two lifelong friends during my brief stay at WSCU. This helps me to remember that although finding community is hard and putting yourself out there can allow you to meet some amazing people.
5. Make time for hobbies – The summer of my internship allowed me to take up hobbies that I wasn’t making time for in graduate school. I went running often, sometimes even twice in one day. I enjoyed being outside. I took the time to read the first few Harry Potter books. I even bought a cheap basketball and shot hoops at the park nearby. My goal for the rest of my life is to never get so busy and caught up with life that I forget about my old hobbies and doing things that I love!
Don’t stop learning and reflecting! Remembering my summer in sunny Gunnison helps me to stay positive and focused! I am so thankful to still be learning and practicing some of the lessons I learned at 7,703 feet.