Final Reflections

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Tabitha Colter

One month out from a summer in DC and I already find myself missing it like crazy. While the beginning of my senior year of college has been full of excitement and friendly faces, life in Greenville, South Carolina is rather different from the world on Capitol Hill. Here at Furman, I fill my days with classes to fulfill my philosophy and physics majors and my afternoons with clubs or other job commitments. My schedule here looks nothing like a 9 to 5 pace and I have to say I miss knowing that at 5PM I'll put my work aside until the next morning. The college freedom is great but comes with the sacrifice of always knowing there are 5,000 other things you should be doing at a time! Another aspect of working in DC that I miss is the conversation I had daily with different networking connections or fellow interns or staff members. I was constantly surrounded by people with very different life stories than mine, many of whom were at different points of their life journey as me. Now I can fill my time speaking to professors who are incredibly knowledgable about the academic side of their fields or students who are freaking out about graduation or still in the thick of college mode... The atmosphere is certainly different and leaves me with a yearning for the busy working world of DC!


The time I find myself reflecting most on my experience at Furman is in the thirty second interactions I have with the familiar people on campus. You know, the type of people who like all of your Instagram photos and you always mean to sit down and catch lunch with but never quite get around to it? The first weeks on a campus as small as mine is full of these interactions in lunch lines or walks to class or the parking lots. In that first brief interaction, I genuinely want to know about their summer and how they enjoyed the internship they had. After they give a short paragraph reply, I always forget that the question will turn around on me and I'll have to find a way to condense the unexpected adventures of the summer into a similarly short reply. I tend to mention a few quick highlights then end with some sort of repetitive mantra on how I could see myself working in this same area after graduation. Once I leave these conversations though to continue back on my way to class or to a table, my mind races back through the weeks to remind me what experiences I missed. And ultimately leaves me with one single thought running through my head:


This internship I was so lucky to experience over the summer was life-changing.


The people I met, the places I explored, the alternative career paths I unearthed, the outreach events on the National Mall, the hours spent wandering the halls of our Nation's Capitol, and the side of science advocacy that I learned all culminate in one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Together, they mark a summer that let me escape from the boundaries of textbooks and jump headfirst into the real world. So my advice to any future applicants/interns of SPS is short and sweet: push yourself to take the leap away from the familiar and try out something completely new. You just might end up exactly where you're meant to be.


Tabitha Colter