What I Learned from the Most Packed Summer of my Life

This summer served as a serious learning experience for me. Being a rising junior in college, I knew it was a good idea to do something meaningful with my three months. Putting an end to my four ~chill~ summers as a lifeguard, I decided to stay in Madison and apply for a new and challenging job, a few internships and take four credits on top of it. While it was a lot, this summer was like nothing I have ever done before and I feel that I have come out of it a more well-rounded (and appreciative of free time!) person. 

My summer began with training (40+ hours of it) to be a campus tour guide. After an extensive two-round interview process, I was ecstatic that I had received the position. I couldn’t wait to be a representative of the university that has given me so much. Being thrown into it was scary, but every single tour got easier. In the process, I continued to learn all sorts of fun facts about the university and find out about programs and resources that I didn’t even know we offered! I also made roughly 20 new friends in the span of two weeks that definitely made my summer a whole lot better. I am continuing in the fall, and I can say without a doubt that this is one of the best jobs I’ve had and best communities of people I have ever been a part of. So, Campus and Visitor Relations, thank you. 

At the end of the spring, I secured my first internship. After a whole lot of interviews, I settled on a position as an advertising sales intern with The Daily Cardinal, one of UW-Madison’s newspapers. I can’t say this was the best work experience of my life—it definitely presented some challenges, including coworkers that were not my best friends and a boss that I disagreed with on quite a few issues. However, I still learned a lot every day, including negotiation skills, sales tactics, pitching strategies and how to get along with people that aren’t your favorite—that right there was probably one of the biggest takeaways of this entire experience. 

I was pretty frustrated at my internship throughout the summer—I was contacting hundreds of clients and getting very few responses back. I had some prospective clients that I went to meetings with and was almost certain would advertise, and then last minute they backed out. This happened with at least three clients. Just as I was beginning to burn out and believe I wouldn’t secure a sale all summer, I was contacted by someone that wanted to place over $1,000 worth of ads. This gave me a bit of confidence to carry on, but I still think sales is very draining and probably not something I will be pursuing in the future. I thank this internship for teaching me that—internships are meant to not only teach you what you want to do, but also what you don’t want to do. 

My coworkers and I had set a collective goal to beat the all-time summer intern group sales record. Our goal was to sell over $22,000 worth of ad space throughout the course of the summer. The very last day of the internship, we were still $1,000 behind, so we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would not be beating the record. That same day, I had a feeling that I should probably get on the phone with a client that I still had in the works. After speaking with the client, I got an email 10 minutes later that the company wanted to place over $2,000 worth of ads throughout the fall semester. We had broken the record by roughly $30, and it had been me. Throughout the summer, I consistently believed that I was the team’s weakest link. Breaking the record in the last hours of the internship made me feel amazing, and it felt so good feeling like I no longer had to prove anything to anyone. So, Daily Cardinal, for teaching me all kinds of valuable professional skills in a short three months, thank you. 

Finally, I completed my crazy summer schedule by enrolling in four credits of Spanish. This was an elementary level Spanish 2 class that I needed as part of my graduation requirements, so it wasn’t a huge challenge. However, I grossly overestimated how much free time I had over the summer. I was given until the end of the summer to finish the course, so naturally, I wildly procrastinated the entire month of June. In the end, I finished the course the last day before the fall semester began. This was, of course, not ideal and taught me that my self-discipline is not as high as I thought it was. Having academic responsibilities hanging over your head the entire summer already, quite frankly, sucks—but procrastinating will without a doubt make it worse. The silver lining of this situation is that I am done with summer classes for good, since I took classes both this summer and last summer. So, four credits, for teaching me that self-pacing is hard and that you should always, always stick to a plan, thank you. Here’s to being done with Spanish and summer term forever! 

Overall, this summer taught me more than I could have ever imagined in terms of time management, teamwork, working in an office, negotiation skills, and public speaking. Now, onto junior year—I can’t wait to see everything I learn next. Next step, preparing for my semester abroad in London that starts in January!