My mother always told me the phrase, “¡Echale ganas!”, which roughly translates to “Give it your all!” She tells me this every time I go to school. Now, it has become my personal mantra. Many parents wish for their children to be successful in life. The question is, “What does being successful really mean?”
How I define “success” is being able to achieve your goals while being happy and proud about it at the same time. For instance, when I get an A+ on an exam, my parents and I are extremely happy. Graduation is the time of year where everyone is most excited to see themselves or someone they cherish receive a diploma. Getting at least one internship in your undergraduate years is a must since it adds substance to your resume. Sure you can boast about getting straight A’s throughout all your four years of college, but ultimately, it is the experience outside of academics that can really shine. While I was getting closer to receiving my diploma, I realized I was not successful since I still lacked any internship experience. In my junior year, I knew something had to be done. When you have the opportunity to apply for an internship, I suggest you act now because it will definitely make a difference to helping you grow as a person.
At the beginning of my senior year, I applied as the social media and marketing intern for the UIC L@s GANAS department: an organization aiding Latinx students in the STEM field. The STEM field is a broad acronym describing students involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I never even heard about it until I successfully got the internship. Even though the internship was unpaid, I was compensated for academic credit towards my internship course. With the support from L@s GANAS, I realized how much fun an internship can be. Certain activities that bring me purpose and impact in my professional life are utilizing my strength in creativity by creating social media posts through Hootsuite and Canva. I edit the weekly newsletter while my fellow coworkers are able to send me information about events on campus, scholarships, and our own events to promote L@s GANAS. Even being apart of one or two staff meetings makes me feel as if I am a part of a growing community. These are a few ways I personally feel I am able to advocate for an organization’s growth.
My advice to give to future interns would be to make sure you apply at an internship that you would be comfortable working in. Know your own work values. For instance, some of the work values I keep in mind are personal growth, balance, and harmony. Reflect on yourself and ask yourself how how much you’ve grown and what lies ahead for more personal growth. No matter how much you love your job or feel obligated to work more hours, always remember to bring balance. During my informational interview with Priscila Pereira, the Mentoring con GANAS coordinator, she spoke about how it is important to bring balance to yourself. Make sure to eat healthy, work out when you can, socialize with friends and family while making sure to be professional in the work environment. When I applied for the UIC L@s GANAS internship, I initially had the idea to expand into other potential career paths and gain experience in new skills such as marketing, communications, and Spanish translation skills. Once you begin at an internship, make sure to smile and be confident in yourself.
One Career Readiness Competency I used the most was Teamwork/Collaboration. It was important in my internship because I needed to work with others in my workplace in order to get the message across to students. I was able to work with people outside the office to help strengthen my goals. I was able to seek out the UIC Language Research Context Group for Spanish to collaborate with one of the graduate students, Vicky. She has been able to help me tremendously with Spanish translation of the Incentive pages for the UIC L@s GANAS website. She is an incredibly talented individual in teaching students about Spanish grammar. It made sense to me to reach out to the resources at UIC. Before meeting Vicky, I could not even tell when to use the verbs “ser” and “estar” in a sentence. Now I know “ser” is a verb used for permanent characteristic while “estar” is a verb used for temporary state. For example, “Estoy felíz de tener una amiga como Vicky.” While I may not be able to translate the whole UIC L@s GANAS website pages, at least I was able to develop this skill now. In the future, I hope to continue using Spanish translation as a skill in potential careers.
I am so proud of myself to be able to seek help when needed. For any new intern, it is vital to be able to work with others. In an office setting, you may have to attend a staff meeting of 4–6 people. There may even not even be staff meetings, but a special project to complete with a team. You may not even work with others at all and be independent. One piece of advice I would recommend is to decide whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.
As an introvert myself, I felt being considered an introvert was a bad thing. Introverts are often stereotyped as quiet and unwilling to socialize. However, introverts can be leaders too. By working independently, introverts can bring the best solution to solve a problem in the work environment. I can attend staff meetings, but I prefer working by myself for most of the time. It’s just the matter of needing to take a break and recharging our batteries before needing to socialize with others. If you identify as an introvert, make sure to remember to bring your ideas to the table during a staff meeting. If you identify as an extrovert, understand the boundaries and limits from introverts in the workplace. Priscila mentioned in my informational interview about having close relationships with some people more than others is okay. You can have a personal relations with team members like asking coworkers about their weekend or having a 15 minute chat over coffee. Keep in mind to respect personal boundaries, especially when a coworker might be having a bad day. You want to be friendly, but not too casual in a working environment.
I really enjoyed my internship at the UIC L@s GANAS department and collaboration with the UIC Language in Context Research Group. I want to thank them for helping me build my skills like marketing, communication, and Spanish translation skills. My internship is only one pebble to a whole journey ahead of me. My final piece of advice to give to a new intern will be this: Take a risk and see the opportunity that’s right in front of you. It’s never too late to gain some experience. And remember, “¡Echale ganas!”