Wow! This summer has FLOWN by! It seems like just last week that I was packing up my dorm room and finishing up my finals. Its crazy to believe that I’ll be sending off to South Caicos for study abroad in less than two weeks and that I finished my internship at the zoo and moved out of my apartment in Philadelphia just about a week ago. It’s all finally starting to sink in, and I have to admit, I miss it more than I though I would. Mostly, its the people I met, my fabulously enthusiastic supervisor and the great friends I met from either the next state over or halfway across the country. But, its also difficult to leave something that has helped you grow so much, personally and professionally.
When I started out at the zoo, I was pretty motivated in a lot of different ways. I wanted to find a working environment that I could be comfortable in, but also feel challenged to do things I would normally not be the most comfortable doing, such as talking about important things in front of groups of people. Also, because I have been oddly shy since starting college, something that does not fit my personality at all, I felt it was important for me to get out of my slump and make connections with my fellow interns.
This internship program really ended up being the perfect place for me to grow up into someone who can be confident in a working environment. The program began with a four day orientation, which trained us on topics that many people wouldn’t initially think are necessary in a zoo setting. We had conversations that highly consider the long list of difficult questions that guests have, and how to carry yourself as a zoo employee. This training was quite long and mimicked the training all zoo staff and professionals go through before starting work. After the four days were up, I felt confident that I could answer nearly any guest question with ease, or at least, know the direction to send them in if I did not know the answer, an incredibly important part of customer service. The staff are all encouraging and constantly thanking the interns, noting that they can see the hard work we put in all summer long.
Socially, I excelled in this environment. Being surrounded by kind, hardworking, like-minded people was a wonderful opportunity that allowed me to feel comfortable enough to be entirely myself. Many of the people I’ve met are people who I can see myself reconnecting in the future and some that I hope to maintain contact with. Because of this I actually feel more excited and less nervous to meet the people in my abroad program, as I believe I will once again be surrounded by people who are also similar to me.
Ultimately, I am sad to be saying goodbye to such a wonderful city. I have truly been spoiled by the local food and sights! Coming from the sticks in northern NJ, living in a city was a great change of pace. Though I often missed being able to hop on my kayak whenever it got hot out, I found fun in some great museums, like the Academy of Sciences, Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there was always something new to discover. I am so grateful for all that the Zoo and city of Philadelphia had to offer!