I spent the summer working in Charlotte, NC at an architecture firm called Shook Kelley. As an intern I worked heavily in computer programs, aiding in the design of a multi-use development project located in Mooresville, NC, while also attending meetings with the client to present progress. My duties included precedent research, using computer software to aid in designing the development, creating weekly progress reports to send to the client, field visits, generating parking analyses to save the client money and make sure there is enough parking for the development, presenting findings in meetings, and much more.
Although the internship was extremely valuable in that I learned a great deal about architecture that I cannot learn at school— mainly being that I had to apply my knowledge to a real-world application with real clients, money, and physical results— I also learned a great deal about myself and my views of the world. The main thing that I learned during my internship was how to be alone in a new and unfamiliar city, which led to a great deal of personal growth. Because I was alone in a new city, I spent my free time driving up to seven hours in a single day to make a day trip to the beach or the mountains, exploring different cities every weekend. I realized that I am completely comfortable living alone, ten hours away from home, leading to a newfound sense of confidence in my ability to thrive in new situations, and a comfort with being alone.
Moving to North Carolina for the summer was my first time ever moving outside of Ohio for more than a week or two. I lived alone in a 3-bedroom apartment about 45 minutes north of work, with no other friends in the area and no other interns at my job. Although I got to know various coworkers fairly well, most lived 45 minutes away and were two or three times my age, with the closest being almost ten years older. Therefore, I spent three months of summer essentially alone, in an unfamiliar part of the country, which was a big adjustment from going to school two and a half hours away from home and living in a house of seven people at school.
There were two main trips that I took during my time in North Carolina that strengthened my ability to adapt to new situations and/or learn to be comfortable being alone. The first of these two trips was when I visited Charleston, SC, which was about three and a half hours from where I lived. My plan was to go all day Saturday, following my week of work, driving there early in the morning and arriving back that same night. When I mentioned it to a coworker, who was about two and a half times my age, on the Friday before I was leaving, she mentioned that she loves Charleston and had been wanting to go all summer. I jokingly told her to join me, not thinking she would take me up on that offer; however, at six a.m. the next morning I was driving to her house to pick her up for Charleston. Although I initially wanted to go by myself, thinking that it could be awkward to go with someone so much older than me, her life and her stories were so incredibly interesting that we never stopped talking the entire seven hours we spent in the car together that day. She ended up becoming one of my closest friends at work, teaching me not only that I shouldn’t judge people based on preconceived notions (in this case, based on age) but also that my ability to relate so well to someone almost three times my age exhibits my adaptability in new situations.
The second trip, this time to Raleigh, NC, reinforced my comfort with being alone and relying on myself. Raleigh was slightly closer to Charlotte than Charleston, about two and a half hours away, and was also a day trip. I decided to go to Raleigh on a Friday, and then woke up the following Saturday morning at six a.m. and drove two and a half hours to North Carolina’s capital. I had been to Raleigh only once before, when I was 16 and visiting colleges that I wanted to apply to. When I packed up and drove to Raleigh I had no idea what my plans were for the day, where I would go, what I would eat, etc. When I got there I wandered around the city of Chapel Hill, where the University of North Carolina is located; I had visited this school four years prior with my parents so I was slightly familiar with the area. I ended up spending my day visiting places that I had been with my parents, contrasting what it was like to go as a junior in high school with my parents, to a senior in college by myself. Although I thought the juxtaposition between these two events would only highlight the fact that I was now visiting alone, it actually made me proud of how far I have grown in only four years, as a result of both attending Ohio State and interning in North Carolina.
Although this internship prepared me for work after graduation in the sense that I learned a lot about my field of study, it also prepared me for my future career in that I gained experience dealing with living in a new city by myself. After graduation I hope to move to either Miami, Florida or somewhere in southern California— because both are prime areas for my future career as a real estate developer. I now feel significantly more prepared to make a more permanent move like this because my internship showed me that I can adequately adjust to similar situations. This was perhaps the biggest obstacle in my way of achieving these career goals, as I was previously unsure of my ability to adjust to new places since I have always lived close to home; however, now I am confident that this won’t prevent me from reaching these goals in the near future.