During spring semester, when study materials have long past taken over desks and begun to extend their dominion over beds, when group project meetings take precedence over meals, and when laundry has sunk so far down in the priority list that wearing the same shirt three times in one week is the norm, the search and wait for the ideal internship opportunity can cause the volcano of stress to erupt into a full mental breakdown…right before the first midterm.
This was certainly my experience as I wrote “Internship” on nearly every To Do List I made from December to May. As the months passed by it became more and more obvious that “internship” was not a simple item to be simply checked off. Rather than an item, it should be recognized as a process—complete with research, career fairs appearances, resume polishing sessions, cover letter edits, interview preparation, networking, visits to the university’s career center and more. Throughout that process, particularly when the DING! of a new email resulted in yet another “we have selected another candidate,” I feared that all that energy and time was wasted.
Yet day after day, I again hopefully checked my emails and waited for phone calls, because that process is worth it. In trying to be pragmatic, it may be called “a necessary evil”, but I am convinced it should be viewed as positively as possible. Truthfully, the process was an opportunity for growth, professional and personal. And the growth only begins with the process. Once the process has been completed, and we actually begin we may strengthen our skills, knowledge, and abilities even more than we could have imagined. Instead of spending a summer becoming all too familiar with Netflix, internships allow us to gain experience in our fields of interest, gain important insight into relevant career paths, and build personal networks. At least, they should. Sometimes they are merely busy work with little chances for growth or a future. It is certainly the former in the case of Netsmart, and that could not be more clear or obvious than in the very name of our summer positions: we are FUTURES.
When I told my family that I would be a Future at Netsmart, they congratulated. When I told them that my housing would be taken care of, that activities would be organized for me and my peers, and that four of the ten weeks of my employment would be spent in training, their eyes widened as they said “Wow! They are really investing in you.” I simply nodded my head at the time, but I could now very easily attest to many things that are done at Netsmart which make it incredibly obvious that I am being invested in, proving that Netsmart sees a future in me.
In these 10 weeks I hope to meet Netsmart’s dedication to my learning and development with equal or greater commitment to my own development, partnered with all I can contribute for the growth and support of Netsmart. At this point, everything is exciting and challenging. Though we sit in training, so many possibilities and opportunities surround us, inviting us all to become familiar with the landscape of the industry, to become experts in our own rites, to be an integral part of an organization that strives to lead a movement in behavioral health through its for-profit work and its sponsorship of Everyday Matters. In times that I will feel overwhelmed by all I have to learn and do, I will remember Tom Herzog’s encouragement on our first day and the words he shared with us:
“We feel that this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown” —Buzz Aldrin
My hope is that the work I do at Netsmart is a testament to those words. Though in 10 weeks my accomplishments will not be equivalent to walking on the moon, I hope that they too will be symbols of my own insatiable curiosity, a curiosity that pushes me forward in personal discovery, and, more importantly, emboldens me in exploration that impacts a community, perhaps made of only a few of my fellow futures or several Netsmartians. At Netsmart, my curiosity will be cultivated and deeper exploration will be encouraged. That support will serve long past these ten weeks, as I become a person who indugles her insatiable curiosity and explores the unknown, leading to intentional actions which ultimately build momentum and impact a larger community. This will serve as my inspiration and motivation, throughout my career and life, to be more than an intern and not only a Future, but to be an explorer.
Claudia Diaz, Plexus Delivery Analyst FUTURE