What I Have Learned

Authored By:

Jonathan F.

"I'm not sure I'm ready to leave just yet."

For anyone who has followed this blog, they'll know that these were the words I said to myself on July 26, while sitting outside the Flatiron Building and observing the last sunset I'd see in New York City this summer. It was the end of a six week adventure. As these last few posts have demonstrated, this adventure was an unforgettable one for me. What I have tried to demonstrate was a taste of the places I had been that had left a mark on me during this time period. What they were not intended to show was the effect that this internship had on me. They did not reflect the relationships I made with people from another country, or the lessons I would learn about myself and the world. I want to write about these now, but I have a specific type of reader in mind. If you are someone who is considering going on an internship with AIC, or has agreed to go on one but is feeling nervous, I want to use this post to provide some reassurance, and an idea on what you can get out of an experience like this. 

Before leaving, I didn't know if I really wanted to do this. I mean sure, it sounded cool. Living in another country for six weeks? Getting work experience and academic credit? Sounds good to me! But as time went on and the reality of this trip became more and more real, I had to decide whether or not I was really going to pursue this opportunity. I did, and that leads me to one of the major pieces of information that I learned during the summer of 2019: the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity. Yes, the idea of living in another country was scary, but I also knew that this had the opportunity to be something truly great. Sure, I could have stayed home, worked locally and had a perfectly enjoyable summer, but I wanted something more. I had just finished my second year of university, and I knew it was time for a change in my life. I also knew how valuable this work experience would be. Interning in New York? That'll get the attention of future employers. Here's the thing: I knew that I would always remember the summer that I went to New York. I would never remember this summer if I didn't go; and if I remember it did, it would be because it was the summer that I had an amazing opportunity and passed it up. 

Of course, deciding to go is half the battle. What you do with your time is up to you. The number one thing I learned? Take advantage of every single opportunity. Is your supervisor mentioning something about putting on an event? Offer to help out. It makes a good impression, and who knows? You just might be getting a letter of recommendation or even a job offer someday. That said, remember that your employers have other employees and lives outside of managing you, so don't crowd them. When you leave, try and stay in contact with your supervisor, you never know what kind of opportunities can arise from forming a relationship with your past employers. Get to know as many people as you can, you may form professional relationships or some strong friendships. You may never have an opportunity like this again, so don't have any regrets. 

 I also recommend getting to know the city you're in. Just take some time, walk around, get to know your new neighbourhood. Some of my favourite memories of New York are the quieter times I spent exploring the East Village or Central Park. Even so, it's people that really make the experience. Get to know the other people at your internship, but also the other AIC interns. The networking and cultural events are a great time to get to know them. Introducing yourself to people can be hard, but remember what I said before: pursue every opportunity. Getting to know people will make your experience so much better. So all in all, don't worry. If you try hard and take advantage of your opportunities at all times, you will form great friendships and be successful in your internship. This is going to be your first experience creating a work-life balance outside of the academic enviornment. This will be a preview of what your working life will be like, so make the most of it.

What did I get out of this? Well, it opened my horizons. I'm currently in my third year of university, preparing for what comes after. I've long thought about doing a Masters. Before this trip, the idea of doing it anywhere else besides Canada would have been nonsensical. After this trip? Doing my Masters in the U.S. is something I have thought of, and doing it somewhere other than my current city is something I've basically settled on. My horizons have been opened. I made professional connections, began to establish a professional network, and made some memories that will last a lifetime. As a political science student, going to the United Nations was something I'll never forget. The idea of someday working there, once again, would have never occurred to me. Now? It's something I will pursue for sure. Beyond that, this experience provided me with the change I didn't know I needed, and broke me out of the rut that I was unaware of. I was due for an adventure, and finally had one. It gave me confidence and a desire to build on this experience in some form. I don't know what next summer will bring, but I'm looking forward to future experiences with great anticipation. 

I'm grateful beyond words to my internship supervisor Patrick. His generousity, kindness and sense of adventure knew no bounds. He took me under his wing far beyond the professional landscape. He made it his mission to help me get to know the city, and ensure I had a good experience. He is the best supervisor I will ever have. For that matter, every single person involved in my workplace made it special, right down to the employees at WeWork in Brooklyn. In addition, I cannot say enough about the friends I made on this experience, many of whom I am still in contact with, and some of whom even provided me with ideas for this post. Finally, and it may go without saying, but the people at AIC made this what it was. I have nothing but great things to say about everyone at AIC, particularly the New York office. They were always organized, always helpful and always awesome to deal with. I am so glad to have become involved with this great company. I can say that I definitely miss being in New York, which is a truly amazing city, better than I expected... but something tells me I'll be back before too long.

I left for my internship in June, and it is now October. The story is complete, a story I've been able to tell with this blog, whether it was exploring the East Village, understanding the subway or trying New York pizza. If you're reading this, it may be because you're about to embark on an internship of your own. I hope my ramblings can serve two purposes: to give you an idea on how you can be successful on your internship, and show what you can get from it if you are successful. I can say I got a lot out of it. But my experience is over, and now my story has been told in its entirety. But if you're embarking on a internship of your own, yours is just beginning. Work hard, be open minded, take advantage of opportunites, and you will have an experience you'll never forget. My story has been told, but for anyone going on an internship, yours is about to begin.