5 Things My Summer Internship Taught Me About Myself

This past summer, I had the privilege of getting to intern in my favorite city in the world (New York) at a company I've always respected. I interned at Atlantic Theater Company, an off-Broadway theater production company famous for producing Tony award-winning shows like The Band’s Visit and Spring Awakening. This internship was seriously one of the best experiences of my life; I think about my time there every day. Not only did it teach me how to be a better intern, a harder worker and a more refined job candidate, but it also taught me about myself and what I should aim to look for and get out of my life in the near future. Here are five main things my summer internship taught me about myself:

  1. 1. The Importance of Loving Your Job Location

    I grew up going to New York relatively often since I lived in Philadelphia. For Christmas and birthday presents, all I ever asked for were tickets to Broadway shows. I loved the energy of life that exists there, and even seven year-old me always felt weirdly at home walking around the city. So from a young age, I knew how connected I felt to the city. The goal was to go there for college, but because life is unpredictable in the best ways, I (so thankfully) ended up in LA. Even though I love LA, I still have always known that New York was where I am meant to be. So when I had the opportunity to intern there this summer, I jumped at it.

    Not that I was surprised or anything, but it truly was the best summer of my life. Since I got the internship in April to when I finally started in June, I could barely think about anything else. And once I got there, every day felt like a dream. I felt like I became this effervescent version of myself. I lived in the East Village, which only took about 24 hours to start calling home. I woke up early every morning and walked to 7am yoga in the cutest little studio just three blocks away from where I lived. Then I would stop and grab a coffee and a bagel on my way home from the barista (Zach) who knew me by name. Then I would get to walk to work. Every day- right through the Village! Even in the heat waves and thunderstorms I felt like I was finally living my entire life’s fantasy. My heart has just always felt at home there. And I am studying abroad right now, so I love seeing new cities every week, but no place makes me feel the way New York does. It makes me feel connected to everything and everyone I love, it makes me feel nostalgically proud to be somewhere I have always dreamed of being and it makes me feel loved, like I am a part of something way bigger than myself.

    Being a student of communications and film, going into entertainment was always something I thought I would pursue. But everyone always told me that this career choice meant staying in LA. This internship taught me that whatever career path I choose, I have to be able to live (at least part time) in New York. No question. I know life has a weird way of taking you down roads you are not expecting, but this value is seriously embedded in my core, and I now know I will do everything in my power to start a life there for myself after school. 

  2. 2. The Importance of Having A Good Relationship With Your Parents

    The only downside of my internship this summer was that it was unpaid. Although unpaid internships are common (and in my opinion still incredibly worth their experience), they can be difficult to pursue. In order to relocate to New York for the summer and work unpaid, I needed help from my parents, and I was incredibly lucky they were willing to support me. It was not easy, and we all had to make sacrifices, but in the end, my internship was worth every challenge and expense. I emerged in August a stronger writer, a more experienced worker and a more self-assured individual, and I would not have gotten the chance to experience any of that growth without the unwavering support of and honest communication with my parents.

  3. 3. The Importance of Loving Your Actual Job

    At Atlantic, I worked as one of three literary interns (we called ourselves the Lit Squad) and we worked directly for the Associate Artistic Director and the Director of New Play Development of the company. Basically, our job was to read and write reviews on every play that got submitted to Atlantic from various agents, playwrights and theaters. So all day every day, I would come in, get to sit in the office of the woman second in charge of creative development at this theater company, with two other amazing interns by my side, and read plays. Play after play after play. I read a lot of bad ones, and a lot of mediocre ones, but also a couple of amazing ones!  I got to be exposed to so many types of stories and storytellers, and seeing the commonalities of what writers are into it right now and how their visions and story pursuits overlap was amazing to understand. Additionally, I feel like my writing skills grew tremendously with all of the reports I got to write.

    In biweekly meetings, I would have to report my findings and evaluations to my two bosses. Public speaking and clear articulation of my viewpoints had never been a strong point of mine, but after this internship, I feel as if I can confidently say that both of those are skills are my strengths. I feel like I came out of my internship a more confident and effective intern, worker, student and person. I thank the stars every day that I pursued an internship that allowed me to learn the ways of a professional environment in a still challenging but also nurturing setting. I loved my job, my coworkers and just my life in general. I think it was the happiest I had ever been.

  4. 4. The Importance of Getting Along With Your Coworkers

    As I mentioned, I worked on a team of five, two of them being literary interns with me. I could not have anticipated having a better dynamic between us. The two other interns, Fran and Gabe, are some of my close friends now, and we still talk often. For two months, we spent all day every day together, so we grew to be incredibly close and really deeply appreciate each other’s backgrounds, families, love lives, struggles and aspirations. All from different places in the country and attending three incredibly distinctive schools, we were a friend group like none other I had ever experienced before. From three very diverse backgrounds, we got to share experiences and viewpoints unique to us, which made finding commonalities even more thrilling. The two of them made going into work every day even more enjoyable, and I cannott imagine ever working anywhere in which I do not feel that type of connection to at least one other person in my workplace.  

  5. 5. The Importance of Getting Along With Your Boss

    I know everyone’s relationships with their boss are different and potentially out of their control, so maybe I was lucky, but I absolutely adored my boss this summer. I look up to her as the epitome for how I hope to be as a career woman one day. With a fearless poise, a quiet yet dominant confidence and a natural grace, Annie embodied everything it means to be a leader. I hope to model myself after her in my life going forward- not only a woman in the workplace, but as a woman in general.

I know not everyone experiences the workplace (especially for the first time) the way I did. I am really lucky, and I recognize that. But if there is one thing you can take away from this... pursue an internship. Your confidence will skyrocket and you will grow into a version of yourself you could have never even fathomed. Take it from me, I now know so much more about my values both in and outside of the workplace, and I have such a clearer picture of what I want my life to look like going forward. Of course I love living in the present, but now? I can’t help but smile when I think about the future.