My STEP Signature Project was a 4-month long Co-Op with BMW Manufacturing in Greenville, South Carolina. My Co-Op featured an extensive look into activities and culture of a large corporation.
My time at BMW has changed the way I look at a lot of things in my life. I’ve learned valuable information about living alone. While at college I was close enough to home that I could come home for a weekend if I was feeling homesick. Living in South Carolina, approximately 10 hours from home, I can’t just come home on a whim. I’ve learned to be okay with being so far from home. I learned about dealing with people in the workplace that don’t get along with me. I’ve learned a lot about how I deal with social situations when I don’t know anyone. I grew professionally as well; I was able to network with a lot of different people across the globe and learn many different aspects of professional protocol.
So, packing up most of my possessions and driving 10 hours down to South Carolina alone was a very surreal experience for me. I didn’t have any friends in South Carolina before I moved so I was quite literally driving into the unknown. An experience like this can really tell you more about who you are as a person and I was able to learn a lot about myself because of this. I learned that I don’t mind being alone if I have something to do. I learned I was okay with going to the movies or concerts even if I had to go by myself because I was able to make friends there. I found that I can succeed in many various social situations as long as I trust in my instincts.
At work I was surrounded by many different types of people and as I mentioned above, they came from various places around the globe. I was able to learn a lot about different cultures and ask questions about how people grew up. I compared their experiences to mine and became more apprehensive of the lifestyles we live as Americans. The work itself was very educational and worthwhile as I learned skills that I’ll need for upcoming classes. The work was very interesting as well, I had a great time learning about the practices of BMW.
Lastly, I was able to gain many different friendships with other interns that I wouldn’t have been able to make otherwise. I went into the experience expecting to learn more professionally but left having become more emotionally, socially, and professionally sound. The friendships I made with several other interns in departments that worked with mine became stronger both in the workplace and out. We worked as a team at work, successfully completing different projects for the company and we celebrated our hard work after hours. We took trips to the beach, went go-carting, did escape rooms and hung out by the pool. These people helped teach me more about becoming the friend someone would like to have. I say this because its so much different becoming friends with someone when you know you only have a couple months together. Life moves fast and friends move away but the friendships last lifetimes.
This change has been extremely vital in my professional, personal, and academic lives. I have learned much more about myself than I thought I would, as I have never truly been alone until now. I expanded the network of people that I’ve worked with which gives me greater chance of success in the future. I learned a lot of practical skills that I’ll need for my classes in school as well. Overall this experience has been fantastic and a pivotal kick start to my career.