With the onset of warm spring weather comes a quickly approaching graduation date as well as the unfortunate closing of my time as an intern with the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant office. This spring, I was awarded an internship through the UGA Public Service and Outreach (PSO) Student Scholars program. This internship has given me the opportunity to experience the day-to-day activities of an extension environment and has exposed me to all of the outreach with which UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant are involved.
Looking back on this semester, I have also developed some of my own working goals, including where I want to take public service and outreach in my future career path. Specifically, I wanted to share five pieces of advice for incoming interns to keep in mind when they start their own journey with the PSO Student Scholars program.
1. Embrace being flexible.
If I think of one word that describes extension work perfectly, it would be “flexible.” The every-day environment in an extension office includes working on a variety of completely different activities, many of which may be unrelated to one another. It is very important to remain flexible and learn to embrace the flow of work. Every day might involve different items on the agenda, but this can be exciting and can allow for new networking opportunities and an upbeat work pace.
2. Learn to be an independent worker.
Although I interned with two other students, our conflicting schedules meant our hours did not overlap. At first I was not fond of my time spent in the office without my fellow PSO peers; however, I learned to work independently and I came to enjoy my quiet time. In many future work settings, I will very likely not spend the majority of my time working in a group, and this experience has taught me to lean on my own workmanship and accomplish goals independently.
3. Gain collaboration and group working skills.
On the flip side of working independently, this internship involved some interdependent work, where I collaborated with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant staff as well as with my fellow student scholars. Although these occasions were not frequent, they gave me excellent networking experience and a chance to work on my collaboration skills. I have been able to form work relationships that can serve as job references for me in the future and I have further developed my group leadership skills.
4. Relish the opportunity to attend work events.
One of the most fun aspects of this internship was the opportunity to represent PSO and UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant at the University of Georgia’s Board of Visitors meeting. Together with two other PSO Scholars, I traveled to Atlanta where I met with UGA staff, such as President Morehead, as well as with business professionals from all around the state of Georgia. This opportunity was the perfect introduction to a more business-professional side of the “work world,” and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to step out of the office and meet other potential future employers.
5. Be open to new experiences.
Lastly, my biggest piece of advice to incoming interns is to be open to new experiences. Your internship will have its ups and downs and while some days you might have to put in some time to do a little grunt work, your hard work will pay off. You will be able to network with all kinds of different professionals and you will establish stronger working relationships with your fellow staff members. You will gain valuable work experience as well as insight into your own work ethic and perhaps even into your future career goals.
Be open to all of the experiences that this internship awards you, and I guarantee that you will not only have a “résumé builder,” but a great work experience to look back on fondly.