As summer starts to wind down, I have had enough time to reflect on how my summer internship went, how I’ve grown and what were the key takeaways. These past couple of months have been enjoyable; I have been a part of some cool projects, met some fascinating individuals, and gained a better sense of what strategy consulting in the public sector space entails.
My personality is pretty reserved and I don’t speak as much as I am probably should. My interpersonal skills and intangibles are certainly okay, but they could definitely use some improvement. These are foibles I was more or less aware of before starting my internship, but I’ve refined my diagnosis over the course of the summer. I am a slow thinker. Here’s a little description of what I mean.
During work, when a colleague explained something interesting to me (mostly non-work related), I rarely reacted immediately. It was not until the next morning that I would think of a response. I am not a very entertaining person to debate because I have little to say in the moment—besides the occasional, “Oh! That’s a solid point”. A couple days later, after some reflection I would finally think of a rebuttal. This understandably makes me look quite clueless in the moment. I found myself in several of these situations this summer, so I forced myself to respond for fear of being thought of as a vegetable. In doing that, I realised that my first reactions were not actually the most honest despite what I initially expected. My first reaction is usually outdated. In other words, my first replies are governed by a semi-related idea that I had long ago and now use instead of thinking. Or, the question or comment triggers a knee-jerk emotional response to something that happened long ago. On many occasions, I found that my first reaction wasn’t in fact current and true, and even when it was, I could remember saying it with a level of conviction that I could look back fondly upon.
Learning the requisite functional skills for having a successful career is rewarding and I went through a good amount of that this summer. That said, the key takeaways for me were the subtler things I learned about myself.