Reflections of an ACUHO-I Intern (Week 1): New Beginnings

With one year of grad school under my belt, I set off to start my summer internship at Roompact. Beginning a graduate degree amidst a global pandemic is an experience in itself, so it only makes sense to continue this virtual learning of which I have become so accustomed to, with a remote internship. Roompact, with a completely remote workspace, was the perfect opportunity as I reviewed ACUHO-I internships.

My first week at Roompact has been filled with lots of new information, generous support from my colleagues, and more than the anticipated number of sloth pictures. As I reflect on my first week with the Roompact Team, I am reminded of the first few days of my undergraduate career. Joining an already established workspace exhibits many similarities to joining an institution as a first year student. Ruminating on my experience as both a new intern and a new student, I have compiled the following tips to help cultivate a positive environment and set your new party up for success.

1. The new individual will likely be nervous – not only do they want to succeed, they want to belong.

Fresh, wide-eyed, and with a to-be-expected amount of naïveté, I entered my freshman year residence hall both excited and a bit petrified of what the next four years would offer. Little did I know the highs and lows I was about to endure, but that’s not what I was thinking about as I unpacked my room with my parents by my side. I was motivated and determined to succeed academically and socially; I wanted to belong, to become a part of something bigger than myself.

Six years later, I find myself sharing many of the same sentiments I did at 18. With enthusiasm, ambition, and hopefully a bit more life experience, I embark on a new adventure into the workforce, still carrying with me the same apprehension and a desire to belong in my new environment. Keeping this in mind when supervising a new intern or student will help to make their and your transition smoother.

2. Provide a space to build community. The individual will want a supportive environment to reflect on their new experience.

Instead of being greeted by my RA with a map of campus and an invitation to our mandatory first floor meeting, I am invited to a staff dinner and equipped with notebooks to fill with my own knowledge and the expertise of those around me. Whether this community is virtual or in person, providing individuals with a space for reflection will help cultivate relationships and integrate a sense of belonging in their new surroundings. 

3. Be ready to adjust your expectations and remind the new individual that it’s okay for them to do the same.

When entering a new role, much like entering college for the first time, we want to be liked, to succeed, and to enact change. I think these fears and emotions are only heightened in a virtual environment where the security that comes from physical interactions doesn’t exist. I empathize now more than ever with the students that joined higher education institutions amidst a pandemic – entering a new space is always difficult, especially a remote one, even if you have experience. 

As a coping mechanism to combat this fear, we often idealize what our experience will be like. While this can help ease some of the anxiety associated with entering a new space, it can also set one up for disappointment. As Anne Lamott says, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” Be sure to set realistic expectations for your new experience and do not be afraid to adjust them along the way.

While I still feel apprehension surrounding the coming months as is natural when becoming acquainted with a new environment, in my desire to succeed at Roompact, I am supported and accompanied by great mentors who also yearn to make a difference. I remind myself that like a first year student, I’m not expected to have all of the answers; I will grow from my experiences regardless of if they proceed as planned or are a response in the moment. Whether it’s becoming B-Corp certified or working with institutions that use our software to provide a better student experience, at Roompact, I am becoming part of a tradition. A tradition dedicated to service, belonging, and impact. 

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