By Chay Short
During my time as an intern this semester at Nine13sports, a health and fitness focused nonprofit in Indianapolis, one of the things I have come to understand is that learning takes on many faces. I was told at the beginning of January that every day may look different and I wasn’t able to fully comprehend what that meant. In regard to my ability to absorb the information flying around me, I had to re-evaluate my perspective on success. Fortunately, I didn’t make any huge blunders that I’m aware of, but coming from an academic background, I was looking to complete my tasks and receive an A. I soon realized that the actions and steps I took to really learn from my coworkers varied from day to day. While consistency is key, I got better at fine tuning my workplace awareness to be more productive. In the process thereof, I learned the importance of knowledge synthesis, the benefits of networking, the value of working independently, and how much journaling has helped me both in and outside the workplace.
One of the main things that I realized quite early on during my time here, is how important knowledge synthesis is in the workforce. Through college it is easy to get into a habit of mindlessly turning in assignments and just trying to cram knowledge and concepts into your brain to get an A. I had been told by professors and those who had already joined the workforce that it was much more important to learn the material you are studying rather than the mindless plug and chug method in regards to assignments. During my time at Nine13sports, I quickly realized that not only did I need to pull information from my classes, I was now wanting to pull from those concepts that I had learned and give effective input during meetings and projects. On top of which, the assignments and tasks given in the workplace don’t always match the way you are used to it being given in school. This inadvertently forced me to become more resourceful and take initiative asking for more information and detail.
Part of the Nine13sports intern experience is having the opportunity to help run the “Kids Riding Bikes” program at different schools around the greater Indianapolis area. These opportunities led me to be able to watch my fellow coworkers interact with staff, superintendents, and volunteers at the particular schools we were at. I was able to see the power of networking and the genuine benefit of going out of your way to say a simple hello. It’s always good practice to be polite and friendly wherever you go, and because of this I can always feel the warm embrace from the community at each school site. Through these experiences at the programming sites, I learned that I tend to get preoccupied with setting up and conducting the programs, rather than taking the time to look at who’s around me. For me personally, I feel the most aware of my environment when I am behind a camera but in real life I can be a bit oblivious. So I have taken this and tried to be more aware, inside and outside the workplace.
One of the biggest takeaways from this internship is understanding the importance of working independently and the value of understanding your own personal work style. Working independently involves taking initiative in what you’re doing and to be honest I have heard this being said but I didn’t really understand how that manifested in work situations. I learned that at times this took shape as me asking for more clarification or taking the initiative to do certain things the way I was taught. I also found that my office days mainly gave me the freedom to manage my time while being aware of prearranged due dates. Much like in college, I had to be responsible and set myself up for success.
One of the ways I set myself up for success is that I got into the habit of journaling for 10 minutes before I started my office days. Outside of the workplace, I had started journaling back in 2021 and saw the benefits from it in my personal life. Before the start of this internship, I had never thought to start journaling before work. I found that this helped me greatly to be able to set specific goals and plan out my time in the office. It served as a great time buffer that gave me time to ease into my responsibilities for the day. It also gave me time to prepare and establish my goals for the day. I intend to continue carrying this habit with me throughout my career and I am grateful for this new tool that has the potential to help me continue to grow.
Nearing the end of my time as Nine13sport’s intern, I have come to realize that success isn’t always linear and sometimes what you are looking to achieve may not be what you really needed to focus on. When I began here I thought more about what I could do to stand out while focusing on what I could learn second. I looked upon my own strength to be what I call a “superintern,” trying to garner attention by saying and doing everything right. This makes sense on my end because the only thing I had ever heard from people about how to succeed in an internship was to try and be perfect. I realized early on that I should have been primarily focused on learning and then seeing what I could add to the environment. This idea of trying to be a “superintern” was unrealistic for me and the only thing I could do is give my best. I know now that the face I take on to truly succeed is one of openness and honesty.
Chay Short is a senior in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.