As a resident of Oregon, I’m all too familiar with how an inch of snow can bring life to a screeching halt. The city comes to a standstill, sidewalks remain unsalted, and the Oregon Department of Transportation asks everyone to stay indoors. So when the forecast called for snow on the day of my flight from Portland to D.C., I quickly jumped on a red-eye to get out of the area before the planes were grounded. Thus began my micro-internship experience. For 3 days between semesters in my senior year of college, I had the opportunity to intern at Ecosystems, a consulting company in the D.C. area.
DAY 1: MONDAY
The transportation challenges continued when I left my hotel in the morning. My car wouldn’t start. After several attempts and discovering a dead battery, I called an Uber—which then got lost on the way into the office.
When I arrived, I thankfully still had time to spare (moral of the story: always leave plenty of time for unforeseen events). At least I could say that I had experienced Eco grit, in my journey to Day 1. (“Eco Grit,” as I learned, is a quality the team aspires to which involves persevering in the face of obstacles and challenges.)
The team introduced themselves and we had our first morning meeting. Allie, one of the value consultants, gave me a schedule for the internship. A highlight from day 1 included meeting everyone on the team and hearing their backgrounds. There are no cookie-cutter employees at Ecosystems—everyone had different stories and experiences. I also really enjoyed learning about the Individual Development Plan (IDP) and hearing the fishbowl story about how Ecosystems was founded.
DAY 2: TUESDAY
On Day 2, I shadowed a few of the value consultants and learned how to work within Ecosystems’ platform. I even had the opportunity to present some of my work to the team.
Highlights from Tuesday included getting a better idea of what Ecosystems does and why it’s so important. I was even able to hear from a customer himself about how Ecosystems’ services are helping him provide clarity to his customer about value.
DAY 3: WEDNESDAY
Day 3 started with a brief team meeting. I spent time shadowing another value consultant and working within the software platforms. I got to present more of my work to some of the team mid-day. In the afternoon, we all had cupcakes to celebrate the completion of my internship.
Advice to Other College Students
To any other college students considering a microinternship: I highly recommend it. Choose interning in a role that you haven’t considered before—it’s a great opportunity to branch out and take a risk. You’ll learn new things and maybe even discover a dream career. I believe that it’s important to understand what you’re good at and what passion you bring to a job, so try to figure that out and emphasize it. As Eco would say, make your value clear.
Also, I’ve learned that soft skills are highly undervalued in college. We aren’t graded on how positive or collaborative we are, and our professors don’t necessarily teach it. But in the working world, these skills are critical. Don’t undervalue the soft skills you have, and find ways to continually develop them.
In reflection, I wanted to thank Ecosystems for sharing their work and values with me over the past three days. It’s been a fun, interesting, and thoughtful experience that has taught me a lot and made me consider new career paths.