Final Reflection: A Summer in Review

Through working with New York Road Runners this summer, I was provided with experiences and opportunities for which I am extremely grateful. Throughout my long search process during the fall and spring semesters, I was both nervous and anxious that I would wind up doing something in a field which I was not passionate about. After multiple interviews and networking conversations, I was lucky enough to be offered to work with NYRR as an intern with their Striders program. The internship opportunity provided me with everything I was looking for. I found that the combination of community service and running/exercise was a perfect fit. The location, New York City, was ideal and I was very thankful to have found such a niche position in a field where I found myself very passionate.

During the course of the summer, I learned countless lessons which I will certainly be able to apply to life after school. Looking back at my personal plan paper, many of the lessons I hoped to learn presented themselves during my internship. Throughout my first few days at the organization, it became evident to me that workplace environment and culture is extremely important. The positive and welcoming environment I found myself in on the first day made me feel as if I had been part of the team for years. The lack of cheesy icebreakers and activities of that sort was extremely relieving to me and I actually enjoyed meeting my coworkers. These first days taught me the importance of first impressions. In my personal plan paper, I expressed that I hoped to improve my communication when meeting new people. I do believe that this is something I improved upon. I saw this summer internship as a great opportunity to become more outgoing and talkative. I wanted to be someone who contributed in helpful ways and spoke confidently.  Along with first impressions, I quickly learned the importance of establishing a good relationship with both my supervisors and my peers. I was extremely lucky to have an awesome supervisor who treated me as if I was of an equal position at the organization. He went out of his way to introduce me to other members of the organization and we were always working together and trading ideas. My supervisor and I enjoyed the process of trying to grow the outreach of our program. The job required frequent traveling throughout the city and without a solid relationship, the workdays had the potential to be long and arduous. However, enjoying the work and the company of one’s coworkers and superiors helps make the work enjoyable. 

In addition to the importance of leader-follower relationships, being passionate about one’s work is absolutely essential in producing the best and most enjoyable work. I thoroughly enjoyed my daily work and the feeling of making a difference in the lives of others. It was assuring to be a part of an organization that has a mission “to help and inspire people through running.” I was able to come to work with a positive attitude because I was thoroughly enjoying what I was doing. This played a huge role in achieving my goal of being out of my comfort zone and working towards being more personable and talkative in the workplace.

Looking back at my personal plan paper, I absolutely achieved many of the goals which I set for this summer internship. In that paper, I expressed my desire to improve my communication skills. I stated that I wanted to “convey a positive self image to others.” Looking back at my summer with NYRR, I have certainly seen improvements in my communication and confidence in my self image and public speaking. There were multiple times in which I had to present the current status of our program to the members of the other teams at the organization. As the weeks went on, I found myself speaking more confidently and clearly. These meetings included vice presidents, my supervisors, and the CEO appeared at a few. Along with the improvement of communication skills, my personal plan paper stated that I hoped to become more organized and a better decision maker. These two skills were absolutely essential throughout my internship. I was tasked with organizing events and sending and answering emails. I was being relied on by my team and a lack of organization would have caused issues for everyone and not only myself. I believe that being trusted with that responsibility made me realize the importance of organizational and I hope to use that skill in the future in both school and work. My final goal in my personal plan paper was to gain knowledge about the field of work and determine if it was something I’d like to do. This summer confirmed that I want to begin my time after college working in a field that combines both community service and running/exercise culture. 

This internship was my first experience working and functioning in a professional work environment outside of school. It was a great opportunity to see how people act and to determine what is expected of one in these types of situations. Especially as an intern, it is extremely important to be aware of how one’s coworkers are acting towards one another and towards their superiors. Whether I work at the same organization after school, or I explore another opportunity, I will be able to apply the lessons which I’ve learned from this internship experience to the next stage of my life. Another lesson I learned is how to work with senior citizens. My work has provided me with the opportunity to meet some amazing seniors from all five boroughs of New York City. Working as an instructor and an overseer of the events, it felt uncomfortable at times when the group which I was leading was all senior citizens. After a few weeks I saw myself improving in my interactions with the elderly members and definitely saw an increased level of respect among them. These experiences helped me manage stress and taught me ways to navigate through adversity. There were times when I was with a group that only had spanish speaking senior citizens. My lack of knowledge of the language made it difficult for me to communicate with the group and I felt as if I was letting them down or disappointing them. However, with the help of some amazing people at the senior centers, we were able to have some great times and form relationships with one another. 

As the weeks passed by, I continued to see ways in which I was applying lessons and theories from my leadership studies classes to my daily work. Aside from the obvious writing and critical reading skills, I found myself using critical thinking skills daily. It was important to think through what I would say during meetings and presentations and using critical thinking skills was important. I also believe that my knowledge of the importance of leader/follower relationships and the different methods leaders use was helpful in creating a beneficial relationship with my supervisor. There were many times when I thought back to Theories & Models and the idea of idiosyncrasy credit. I always made sure to be on time and make myself readily available to work events and help where I was needed. I found that this added a sense of security and eased my stress if the subway was ever delayed or something came up where I had to be a few minutes late. Working for the Youth & Community Services department of NYRR, I was also able to apply many lessons from Justice and Civil Society and my time as a volunteer mentor. 

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with New York Road Runners this summer. I was able to have experiences and opportunities which I had only hoped for in the past. Seeing theories of leadership which I have studied in my Jepson classes was also extremely reassuring and contributed to my appreciation of the Jepson school. Going forward, I will be able to apply lessons learned from both my summer internship with NYRR and Jepson to be the best employee and coworker I can be.