What I learned from my summer internship

I feel like all I ever hear is that you need to have internships. People always say that internships are essential and how they help with future job placement because they show interest and show you are passionate about the job.

I might be the only kid I know who has a deep passion for urbanism and urban planning and is willing to spend their free time researching the history behind it. It makes sense that I would try to find an internship working in planning, so that’s what I did. I got an internship in the small city of Hamilton, Ohio, a long struggling Rust Belt city.

For anyone who knows me, it sounds like the perfect internship. Hamilton is working on a new comprehensive plan and is undergoing a huge revitalization. I went to work and put my whole self into everything I did, trying to learn as much as possible. I was excited to work in a new city I didn’t know much about while working for a Xavier graduate.

The first week was rough, the second—not much better. I thought maybe I was having a hard time adjusting to a work environment from school or I was just awkward around new people. I would get distracted from the work that I thought I was passionate about. I found myself on social media instead of enraptured in my job.

I started showing up late and leaving early while still taking the longest lunch break possible. I truly was not enjoying my internship.

For weeks I have been dreading the conversation that I know I will be having hundreds of times during the first week of classes: “So, how was your summer?”

I know that most people simply want to hear the basic “Oh, it was amazing, I had a great internship,” but will I really be able to tell that lie? It wasn’t amazing — but what am I supposed to say?

Looking back on it now, it wasn’t the people or the place. I thought I would love the job and the work, but something was missing. It wasn’t until I got to interact with people in the public that I knew what I was missing. I learned that the only way that I could be happy was to get back to working with people.

Looking back on this whole experience, even with the long days and seemingly quick lunches, I did learn something. I learned that I needed to interact with people, and whether those people were the public or just my coworkers, I couldn’t work in a cubicle.

I learned something about myself that I couldn’t have learned otherwise. Because of my major and the internships that usually come with it, I am used to interacting with people. I took for granted that all jobs were based in personal interactions. I never knew that it was something that I couldn’t work without.

This is what internships should be for. We, as students and as a university, need to stress to our community that internships should be about learning and not future job security.

Internships are about coming to understand who you are and what you like, not networking with professionals in a field you may not even end up in. If I learned anything this summer it’s that when you look for an internship, you shouldn’t look for the most prestigious company or having the best network at the end.

You should look for a place where you’ll be happy with the work you’re doing, and maybe you’ll learn a little something along the way.


Miles Tiemeyer is a junior history and Philosophy, Politics and the Public double major. He is a guest writer for the Newswire from Cincinnati.