Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” But what’s the source of experience? For a student trying to find a way to fill his or her summer months, the answer is an internship. A summer internship is one of the most productive ways to spend this time off, for you have the opportunity to be immersed in an environment that gives a sneak peak to the real world, while simultaneously teaching you a lot about a certain field that may interest you in the future. For me, my source of experience this summer was right here at tekMountain, and this experience is what gave me knowledge I would not be able to obtain otherwise.
From the beginning, I knew my summer experience at tekMountain would be like no other. Whether it was the people, the work, the environment, I’m not really sure what made the experience so special, but only because there are so many possible reasons for why it was. Although it’s likely that any internship is bound to give you knowledge of some sort, it’s how I went about gaining that knowledge that made my time at tekMountain so unique. Although the list of my internship’s special aspects is endless, three main facets stood out among the rest — flexibility, engagement, and enhancement. Let me break it down.
I was under the impression I would be working Monday-Friday 8-5. But no. In fact, I was able to make my own schedule, as long as it wasn’t completely absurd. Having this flexibility about when I would work immediately made the internship more appealing. Let’s be honest, many people don’t like being told what to do, so you can imagine being able to pick the days and hours you work is a complete game changer. And it was. As a result, I was going to work not because I had to, but because I chose to. I chose to work these allotted times, and the power to do so made going to work much easier. Also, with such a flexible schedule, it was easier to decipher why or why not I was happy with what I was doing. A lot of interns who find themselves unhappy are because they find themselves working insane hours. Even if you love your job, working inconvenient times can make it difficult to appreciate what you do. Therefore, with my schedule not being a factor, I was able to easily enjoy what I was doing.
From the get-go, I was engaged in what was happening in my department of business development. I attended meetings, received assignments, researched information, and learned about what the company was currently undertaking. It was most interesting to hear about tekMountain and the multiple startups that are taking advantage of the accelerator’s space and resources. Knowing that I was in the vicinity of people who are in the works of creating innovative products was very exciting. This constant engagement and involvement in what the company was doing not only made me feel accepted, but also exposed me to the company in ways I would never have experienced otherwise. By throwing me into the mix of what all was happening, I was able to quickly learn more about tekMountain and therefore had a more fulfilling experience. Helping with the Wilmington Startup Social Exit Event was a unique way to be engaged with tekMountain and all that it deals with as well. Manning the front door, I witnessed everyone walking in, most of whom were entrepreneurs, conversing with one another and discussing what they did. Just hearing these conversations educated me on how remarkable is the startup scene in Wilmington. Listening to these people enthusiastically share what projects they were working on and what their purpose was definitely shed light into how driven and passionate they are about what they are doing. I remember one guy specifically, who came in and immediately told me he was an introvert who doesn’t do well in situations where he doesn’t know many people. This was one of these situations for him. He had come to this event not knowing a soul; however, I immediately saw him reaching out and making an effort to inform others who he was. He might have been an introvert, but his enthusiasm as an entrepreneur took over all of his hesitation. Participating in this event inspired me to be as enthusiastic about what I do one day and, hey, that might entail starting my own business that involves one of my passions.
When comparing summer jobs and internships with my friends, none of them have experienced what I have as an intern at tekMountain. Attending Tuesday Talks at tekMountain, for example, is just one of the many unique experiences tekMountain offers. I really value this aspect because it shows the company’s dedication to enhancing the lives of their employees beyond what just happens in the office. The insights guests brought to the table during these Tuesday discussions gave me new perspective to not just how I view the outside world, but also how I perceive the work I do for CastleBranch. In a world where people, particularly interns, aren’t being hired because they lack “soft skills,”I admire how tekMountain dedicates time to building such skills. Not only did I leave this job with a better understanding of CastleBranch and tekMountain and all that they do, but also of how to become a better communicator, critical thinker, and collaborator.
Because of these three factors, I am leaving CastleBranch and tekMountain at the end of the summer with so much more than just a paycheck. The skills I have acquired are worth far more, and I have my rewarding experience with this company and its employees to thank for that. The company’s captivating corporate culture has given me exposure that will resonate with me forever.
Thank you CastleBranch and tekMountain for being not just my source of experience but also my source of knowledge this summer. Graduating from Cape Fear Academy in June and heading to UNC Chapel Hill to begin my freshman year in just a few weeks, I am excited to have spent my last few months at home being a part of the tekMountain community.