EducationSkills

As the sunny season approaches many students translate the word “summer’ directly into “intern season.” The narrative surrounding the months of June to August is usually accompanied by questions like “Where are you interning?” and “Who are you working for?” The stress of feeling like you should have answers to these questions can be overwhelming. But the social and professional pressure to be part of this dialogue is – in my opinion – slightly ridiculous and highly unrealistic. Here are some logistical facts about being an intern:

  • Interning is expensive. On top of having to pay for housing fees, appropriate work attire, transportation, and food, interns typically work for a very small stipend or no money at all (or in some cases they have to work for school credit which can actually cost them additional academic fees). And these are just a few of major financial costs associated with being an intern.
  • Interning is time consuming. Whether you are a part-time or full-time intern, the tasks you are likely doing at this entry level, correlated to the amount of time you spend doing them, often don’t match up on at a quality to quantity comparison.
  • Interning is stressful (for the worst reasons). While I won’t deny altogether that professional growth is, in fact, an important and positive part of personal development, I will stand firm in saying that interning can often lead to copious amounts of unnecessary stress. Because so many people hold their internships up high like a shiny prize they have won, the atmosphere can be tense, uncomfortable, and entirely career-oriented. Rather than viewing internships as ways to learn new and interesting things about a specialty you might be interested in perusing, this dog-eat-dog environment tends to put more emphasis on whether or not a full time position will be offered at the end of it all.

Carpe wants to tell you “No internship? No problem.” In fact, you might be in a better position than your peers, and here’s why:

  • You aren’t bound to a formal time schedule. Without a permanent 7 am wake up time you are free to create a time structure that works best for your own personality and productivity. If you prefer to stay up late working on a personal project versus getting up before the sun rises, you have that option too.
  • You have flexibility when it comes to traveling. Summer is a wonderful time to travel and with a more flexible schedule you can plan a trip during off-peak seasons. That means you save money and can plan to visit friends or family at a time when they can actually host you.
  • You have time to explore a personal passion or interest. If you aren’t interning or working you should definitely be doing something productive on the personal side. Whether that includes writing, drawing, surfing, knitting, learning a new language; it’s up to you – the sky is the limit. This is the only time when all of your other responsibilities aren’t piled on your plate, so optimize every minute!
  • You get to take time for yourself. Sometimes the most important aspect of not having a formal internship is that you get to take time to be alone with yourself. You get to focus entirely on how are you doing mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is difficult to assess how the last year went if you move onto the next step too quickly. Taking time to really check-in an think about what makes sense going forward can really help bring you to the next phase of your life in a thoughtful and internally motived rather than hasty and pressured way.

Whatever you choose to do, do it to its fullest potential. You have the ability to make every day count, so whether you’re interning for your state representative or spending the summer in Cascade, Idaho backpacking and kayaking, invest fully and know that you’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re doing great.

 

What are you doing this summer? Let us know @CarpeJuvenis!

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

CultureEducationTravel

Backpacking through the Trinity Alps, kayaking down the Salmon River, conversing with local school children in rural Chile…these experiences are just the norm at the Alzar School.  And Elena Press, a sophomore at Upper Dublin High School, located outside of Philadelphia, was one of just ten participants in its Fall 2013 session.  From mid-August through the end of December, Elena attended the fully accredited semester school, partaking in the schools “Six Foundations:” leadership training, academics, outdoor adventure, service learning, cultural exchange, and environmental stewardship.  The school, based on a 100-acre campus in Cascade, Idaho, is for motivated sophomore and junior students.  Students participate in significant outdoor expeditions, learning to whitewater kayak, backpack, rock climb, surf, ski, snowshoe, and more. Its academics are challenging, all honors and Advanced Placement, and the leadership opportunities that are provided are what Elena describes as “once-in-a-lifetime.” But these high level courses are distinctly different from those familiar to a traditional high school. The Alzar School emphasizes critical analysis, creative thinking, and effective communication, while using its unique resources to provide a vast variety of hands-on experiences for its students.

Elena Press elaborates:

Before beginning the process, I was hesitant to depart my highly regarded high school, as well as the town I had lived in my whole life.  Leaving behind friends, family, school, clubs, and activities would be an immense sacrifice. Of most concern, since I was missing a semester of my customary education, was how this would impact my future?  A typical worry of many teenagers is college.  Many students, including me, wonder: What classes should I take?  How can I earn the best grades?  Should I get more involved in my community and service projects?  How many awards can I receive in my high school years?  Yet colleges love seeing students partake in unique activities and take risks, two items surely fulfilled by an experience at the Alzar School!

A frequent activity of the students at the Alzar School is kayaking. Students kayak in Idaho, Oregon, California and Chile, providing many opportunities for a first-time kayaker, like me, to increase their knowledge of this riveting sport. I vividly remember staring with wide eyes and quaking in fear as I gingerly paddled in my kayak, mortified at the prospect of going down Snow Hole, a Class IV rapid. My instructors insured me that I was capable and reviewed the line with me multiple times. Then, I went down. I did it! And I flipped over and swam out. Consequently, I discovered that kayaking is absolutely thrilling; you can choose to challenge yourself however much you desire. The uncertainty of being under the water’s influence taught me to push myself, but kayaking is all about community; my friends and I learned many lessons from each other, and constantly supported and cheered one another on, whether doing a flip in the air, or leading down a rapid for the first time.  This is one of the reasons why the Alzar School integrates a large amount of kayaking into the students’ time.  The school considers it a great medium for empowering young leaders.

Of the five months spent at the Alzar School, students spend two weeks traveling through the Northwest, six weeks in Chile, and the remainder of the time in Idaho.  When traveling to Chile, students fully immerse themselves in the culture, vastly improving their Spanish skills by participating in a homestay program, attending a Chilean school and conversing with locals. By traveling through Chile, I discovered that smiles and laughter can break even the strongest barriers of age, language, and culture. The traveling opportunities are not presented purely to allow the students to experience new places, but to open their hearts and minds to other parts of the world, and an unknown culture.  All these contribute to the ultimate goal…to empower and teach young individuals to become leaders in our world today.

Throughout the semester, I learned to plan and lead expeditions and service projects. Alumni continue to develop the leadership skills they acquired from their time at the Alzar School by creating a Culminating Leadership Project to make a difference in their home communities and the world.  The goal of my CLP, Girls Outdoor, is to foster an appreciation of the environment by exposing young girls to the outdoors.  I’m planning and taking 19 Girl Scouts on a three day camping trip. This will involve, among other things, teaching them Leave No Trace principles, risk management, and camping planning.

My semester at the Alzar School was the peak of my high school career and a highlight of my life. The greatest benefits that I acquired from the experience were figuring out who I am as a person and becoming confident in that person, while gaining a support group of the most incredible lifelong friends and mentors from all over the world. From chopping wood, to teaching Chilean kids how to kayak, I’ve never had more fun doing anything. I overcame limits, fell a lot and laughed even more, and found out quite a bit about myself in the process. I wish that every high school student could partake in an experience like the Alzar School offered me.

 Elena encourages anyone who is interested in the Alzar School to check it out.  For more information, visit www.alzarschool.org