A Leap of Faith: Unexpected lessons from my summer internship

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Madison Kriege
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I’ve always been one to walk before I ran and put myself into a box before the rest of the world could do it for me, so when I decided to take a summer internship four hours from my friends and family – in a city I barely knew – it came as a shock.  The 12-week program was with a company that I had never heard of until the career fair and wasn’t exactly what I had considered doing long-term, however, this summer has been one incredible journey and I am so thankful for it.

I work for a comfy-chic software company that believes in open collaboration and equal parts work and play.  There are no cubicles or closed doors, and everyone has a chance to join in the Smash Brothers tournament at the end of the day.  I learned how to win at ping pong and finally got good enough at cornhole to call myself a Midwesterner, but I also found a space where I could freely ask questions and never had to doubt my ability. 

I was just an intern, but I had the same desk as a full-time engineer and sat in on the same meetings they were attending.  This summer helped me regain confidence in myself that I had lost through the semesters of feeling excluded in the classroom or feeling afraid to ask questions because I was already fighting an uphill battle to fit in.  A fun company is excellent, but a supportive one makes all the difference.

My decision to pursue a job outside of my predetermined search radius was a bold one that hit me before I had an opportunity to consider the risk.  It meant leaving my friends for the first time and learning how to make new ones. Throughout my three months, I discovered that I love to paint my nails and that metal may have a place in my music library.  I learned that regardless of how similar our lives are now, people have amazing experiences to share and different stories to tell.  My coworkers came from different states, ages, and races, but at the end of the day, we were all college kids taking a chance on our future together.  

I learned how to stop caring long enough to enjoy a night out or sleep in on a Saturday.  I put away my to-do lists and binge-watched a TV series for the first time in years. I’ve spent so much time trying to juggle the things I love and the things I do and the people I surround myself with that I forgot to include myself.  By finally stepping out of my self-created box, I discovered a balance between the life I normally led and the new things I had found.  The world suddenly wasn’t as black and white as I had led myself to believe and those boxes we put ourselves in are not always accurate.

This summer, I decided to challenge myself and step entirely out of my comfort zone for 12 weeks.  There were days that I felt on top of the world and days that I cried watching my boyfriend’s car leave after a weekend visit.  I pushed myself and found a happiness that I have never felt before with a group of people I would never have had the pleasure to meet.  So the next time an opportunity comes at you, take it and run.  There are days to calculate your moves, and there are days to celebrate your ability to move.  This leap of faith was one worth taking.