I can’t stress how much internship programs, if done well, can absolutely rock. Being at the bottom of the totem pole sounds a lot worse than it really is. This past summer I interned at Keurig Green Mountain and looking back, I was the most stereotypical intern ever. My projects involved making coffee and cleaning up messes that I made by making coffee, but I mean that in the BEST way possible.
At Keurig, I got my own independent project where I designed and conducted testing in the lab, figured out the best way to tackle the problem, used Solidworks to design solutions and even completed a couple iterations of prototyping a part that will eventually go in the brewer. I was so happy to find that everyone is so friendly and willing to help me with my project and Keurig really invested a lot of time and resources into their internship program. Plus, I really identified with the coffee culture and the focus on sustainability. Shameless plug here (even though I don't work there anymore) - recyclable k-cups are now available!
I’m very surprised by how much I learned about myself outside of just adding more technical and professional skills. Breaking out of the student lifestyle is a big change. Here are some thoughts in list form:
I think the success of my internship can partially be attributed to my awesome manager, and partially because I've been exposed to the Tufts academic environment and could use those skills at Keurig. The Tufts community is busy, but collaboration is necessary so I've learned to be very adaptive to other students' responsibilities, learning styles, and senses of humor. All of this helped me practice my communication skills, and I'm now much better at sharing my own ideas, understanding other people and being very productive while still having fun. That led to a very successful internship and I learned the professional environment isn't so scary after all.