As my virtual internship in Paris is quickly coming to an end, my personal and professional growth are becoming clearer. Prior to this internship, I would have never thought that I could change so much in six weeks, and it will be interesting to see how much change I notice after eight weeks.
To be honest, when I first enrolled in this internship program, I did not expect any personal growth. I thought to myself, “I am happy the way that I am.” I solely expected to experience professional growth and valuable experience, nothing more. I was wrong. This internship taught me that being “professional” does not only tie to the workplace. Professionalism is a component of everyday life, and a lot of being professional is being yourself: sharing creative ideas, providing feedback, and showing your true colors. Of course, professionalism and personal life are not synonymous, but they share a lot in common. Previously, I had thought that professionalism and being personal were two separate things. I thought that the appropriate thing to do was to mask my “true identity” and put on some “professional” filter. At first, I let this false perception hinder my internship experience. I tried too hard to be someone I was not. However, through my internship course, my meetings with CEA, and my meetings with my supervisor, I found that I contributed most to the discussions and projects by being myself.
Not only did being myself make my experience more enjoyable; it also made it clearer to me what it truly means to be a leader. Through the internship course module on leadership and my experience working for my host company, my understanding of what it means to be a leader changed considerably. Previously, I had thought that only people in power could be leaders. More specifically, I thought that as an intern, I would not be able to express my much of my leadership qualities. However, I was proven wrong. Being a leader is about taking initiative and having a willingness to share ideas. Anyone can be a leader. Everyone’s opinions and ideas matter!
Dennis Cogan is the Spring 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Fordham University.