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Be a Sponge!

How to Choose an Internship

If I had to choose one mantra to sum up the year of 2020, it would be “It’s tough to adapt.” It’s been tough for employers having to adjust to new regulations, tough for employees to adapt to working from home alongside kids and pets, and tough for interns to learn and grow their skillsets virtually. Luckily for me and the rest of the 2020 interns, CommScope has gone above and beyond to ensure opportunity after opportunity to do just that.

I’m a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in my junior year studying Computer Science and Statistics. For Computer Science majors and most other ones, learning how to apply yourself to real-world projects is almost more important than learning the material in class. The journey, then, to my current internship with the IT Enterprise Architecture team was a test for everyone involved. 

As Lydia Dyer, the recruiter who reached out to me first, spoke eloquently, “CommScope is probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of!” And it’s true; CommScope touches many worldwide products and has been recently featured in the Fortune 500. However, I was lucky enough to hear of CommScope beforehand via my friend Matt, another CommScope intern from UNC. His recommendation was all it took for me to apply – a recommendation I can’t echo enough!

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread its reach over the United States, shutting down international travel, sending students home from school, and bringing the economy to halt, I had a sinking feeling in my heart that my summer plans in Hickory were likely no more. Yet, this article is proof enough that CommScope truly cares about its impact on students and the symbiotic relationship between the two.

So, when it comes to sending out that resume, pick a place that chooses their interns over the uncertainty of a pandemic. Pick CommScope.

How to Make the Most of Your Internship

At one of my first virtual team meetings, I mentioned how I was going to soak up all the knowledge I could. A coworker jokingly dubbed me “Sponge”, and since then, it’s stuck.  The lesson is worth learning; everything around you as an intern, even the small things, are worth noticing. With an internship like mine, there are many chances to learn tools and frameworks to help boost your technological knowledge. What I’ve come to appreciate, though, are the soft skill experiences: how to convey your point effectively and succinctly, how to read a room (or a Zoom call) for feedback, and how to work as a team both together and as individuals.

One of the best added bonuses I didn’t expect was being able to enjoy the company of other, like-minded interns in the same position of life as me. Making friends in a new place isn’t easy, but the many social opportunities (even in a pandemic and while virtual) in and outside work help make anyone right at home.

Conclusion

What I’ll leave you with is this: take your time with a company like CommScope and use it to fail fast. Sometimes, I catch myself holding back a question, especially in an online setting, for the sake of continuing a different train of thought or to not inconvenience the speaker. Don’t do this! Everyone here understands that you are an intern and expects you to ask those questions. When working on projects be motivated, stay ahead of the deadlines, and ask for help sooner rather than later. And most importantly, be a sponge!

 

-Blaine Hill

IT Enterprise Computer Architecture Intern