How to survive an internship far away from home

How to survive an internship far away from home

This summer, contributor Mary Alice Blackstock had an internship 15 hours away from her home on the Outer Banks. Here are her tips if you do the same.

Above: Mary Alice on Great Day Tampa Bay dressed as Mote’s mascot, Gilly the Shark. Photo courtesy of Mary Alice Blackstock.

This past summer, I was a community relations and communications intern at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. For anyone who’s handy with geography, that means I spent a whole summer living on my own 15 hours away from my home on the Outer Banks. Here are my tips on how I survived and made the best of my experience!

Realize everyone is in the same boat as you

Mote has a pretty large college internship program, which meant that most of (if not all) the other interns were also just in Sarasota for the summer. An internship far away from home is an amazing opportunity to make new friends! I know, I know, us millennials don’t fancy face to face interaction, but I really don’t think I would’ve made it through the summer if it weren’t for the other interns in my program.

Stay busy

Okay, so this may not be the healthiest way to keep yourself from getting homesick, but I found that it was very helpful. My internship was at a nonprofit, so it wasn’t paid, which meant I needed to find a part-time job if I wanted to be able to buy groceries. I was interning 30 hours a week and worked at a little local retail shop about 25 hours a week, so I was a pretty busy gal. However, by the end of the day I was so tired that I forgot I wasn’t in North Carolina, so it worked out for the best.

Talk to your loved ones

This might sound like a given, but when you’re super busy, it might be something that slips your mind. But it’s so important to keep in touch with your friends and family while you’re far away. I talked to my mom every night when I got home (partially because I was scared “It” would be in my closet) and it was probably the most often we’ve talked since I’ve been in college. Your friends and family want to know how you’re doing, and talking to them is great way to humble brag about all the cool internship stuff you’re getting to do!

Build relationships

This could go for any internship or job, but the most important things I took away from Mote were the friendships and professional relationships. Get to know your supervisors and other people you work with! You never know when you’ll form a connection that will be super helpful in the future. A couple weeks ago, I was having a quarter-life crisis about my future career, so I emailed my summer supervisor to ask for her professional advice, and it was so insanely helpful. 

Have fun

The MOST important part of a summer internship is to enjoy what you’re doing. You’re locked in for a whole summer, so you might as well have fun with your work. I found it super helpful to get involved with every step of the process, whether it be observing an interview or editing a news release. This way, I knew what was going on and could really appreciate the work I was doing. (Yes, even when I was dressed up as a shark.) 

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