Transitioning From A Full-Time Internship Back To School

By Kinsey Mead on September 16, 2016

For the past year, I have been interning as a product design engineer at Apple (no, I can’t tell you what I was working on and yes, it is a pretty cool place to work). During my time there, I learned a lot about engineering (there’s so much they can’t teach you in class), working full-time, and myself.

Although I was an intern, I was working 45-50 hours a week and doing real work such that I felt like I was contributing. You hear stories about interns getting coffee or running errands, but not at Apple. Sure, there’s some busy work, but for the most part I felt like a real member of the team. 

Now it’s the end of August and I have two weeks left. One week after finishing, I’ll be going back to school to complete my senior year at UC Davis. Soon after I started my internship, I noticed a lot of differences between the lifestyle of a college student and the lifestyle of a full-time engineer. When I started, I was super excited for this new lifestyle, and already had a list in mind of things that I would not miss about school.

Now, I have a new list of things that I’m excited for about school and things that I will not miss about working, which I’m going to share with you today. After going to class again for a few weeks, I plan on reflecting back on this list to see how things have changed.

Things that I am excited for when school starts again:

1. Freedom with my time: This is actually one of the things that I also loved when transitioning from high school to college. You can do whatever you want with your time. You can schedule your classes at times that work for you. For example, I prefer scheduling my classes earlier in the day so my evenings are free for doing homework, cooking, catching up on OITNB, etc.

In high school, and again at work (especially as an intern), you’re expected to be in a certain place all day long. What if I have to do laundry? Too bad, have to wait until after work. Pick up a prescription from the pharmacy? Again, after work. Need to go anywhere that’s only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (literally the hours I’m at work, and then some)? That will have to wait until the weekend.

2. I am my own boss: Technically my professors are telling me what to do and giving me assignments and deadlines, but once I have those deadlines I can decide when, where, and how to complete those tasks. As an intern I actually had a good amount of freedom in this sense as well, as far as how I would approach those tasks.

3. More of a defined schedule: Generally, professors will schedule homework, projects, or exams and then those dates will not change. However, my experience with most of the tasks and projects I’ve worked on as an intern was different. I would have multiple people approach me with projects or tasks, and they would all ask for me to get them done “as soon as possible.” With four things to get done as soon as possible, prioritizing becomes an extremely important skill.

4. I can cook exactly what I want for my meals: Yes, Caffe Macs is great, but I also enjoy having the freedom (sensing a theme?) to choose exactly what I’d like to eat. I also enjoy cooking, trying new recipes and exploring new flavors, and that’s something that I haven’t had very much time to do while interning. (I have a feeling Caffe Macs will be one of the things I actually miss when I’m back in school).

Looking back, many of these things were very good experiences. Time management, prioritizing tasks, and problem solving are all great things to learn and will serve me well in future jobs, and even in school when I return to class. Who knew working full-time could be such a great experience?

By Kinsey Mead

Uloop Writer
I'm a senior at UC Davis, studying Mechanical Engineering but not limiting myself by that. I just finished a year long internship doing product design at Apple, and now I'm hoping to apply my learnings to the last year of my undergrad experience and to my life!

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