Internships and Personal Development

Posted by Caroline Bechtel on

Employers seek candidates with a unique skill set that will prove valuable in their workplace. While my academic courses develop my analytical, reasoning, and writing skills, they fall short of preparing me for the ‘real world’. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to work during the school year and breaks, learning valuable skills that take me from the ivory tower back down to earth, complementing my education. Namely, I participate in ROTC throughout the school year, worked for Congresswoman Brooks in Congress, and have done some local work for NPR at WFYI. These experiences are essential to my personal development—through them, I’ve learned valuable workplace skills, discovered my passions, and sifted what kind of working environments I like and what I don’t.

My understanding, albeit novice, of the Army has informed and shaped my career goals. ROTC has allowed me to peer into the cultural perks and quirks of the Army. I love the pervasive motivation, the inclusiveness of the teams, and the siblinghood that forms within the intense environment. I’m not sure, though, that I’ll like living on a base—I’m a Kombucha-drinking, city-frolicking gal, and last time I checked, the DFAC (dining facilities) doesn’t serve kale. No matter how long I choose to work for the military, I’m thankful for my decision to join. Through it, I’ve learned the true meaning of hard work, of group cohesion, and the importance of respectful and clear communication.

DC was a whole new world (a world plagued by Vineyard Vines, mind you). Despite its notorious gridlock, the rhythm of Congress is upbeat and free-flowing. Advocacy groups stream in and out of the office selling their story interrupted only by the "ring-ring" of the bell calling all representatives to a vote. Patriotism, not prestige, fuels it and all of DC. I thrive on this infectious energy, so DC is a place for me. However, I found that my interest in security studies prescribes work for the executive or media rather than the legislature.

Volunteering at WFYI has given me a taste of the role public media plays in a local community. Local NPR stations enhance public understanding by bringing news, ideas, and stories that matter to their listeners. I first applied to work for NPR because I felt indebted to its programming; discovering NPR in high school invited me to consider new opinions, perspectives, and ideas that I had never before encountered. Working for WFYI has confirmed my sentiments about public media. Between its rigorous local reporting, educational community outreach programs, and dedication to connecting Hoosiers to Indy culture and arts, WFYI has become critical to the progress and flouring of Indianapolis. Seeing the construction of these assets up-close has bolstered my desire to contribute someday to NPR. 

School is awesome. I love my professors, my classes, and the empowering environment that Wellesley provides. But, it’s not enough. Students need to step outside the classroom and experience the real world to be prepared to not just be an employee, but also an adult—someone who understands the workings of the world. So, students take your summer break and find work. Volunteer during your winter break. Ask to shadow somewhere for a week during spring break. Balance an internship with classes during the school year. These experiences aren’t just for your resume, but for you. 

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caroline1.jpg  Caroline Bechtel is a junior at Wellesley College and an Army ROTC cadet. She is majoring in political science and Arabic, and she plans to work active duty for the Army after graduation. She loves long runs around Boston, NPR, and being an American. 

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