Getting Ready for the Real World

Topics: Education Policy, ESSA

Guest post by Hannah Matuszak

Exactly one month ago, I wrote a blog post reflecting on the beginning of my internship with KnowledgeWorks, and today, I’m looking back on my experiences as my internship comes to an end. My name is Hannah Matuszak, and I’m a rising senior at Loveland High School. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been part of the KnowledgeWorks Communications Department, where I’ve done work involving graphic design, social media and web design.

I’d like to think that I’ve changed a lot since the first time I walked into the office, nervously clutching my laptop bag and feeling like I was adrift in a sea of new people, new experiences and new expectations. One of the most important things that this internship has given me is a sense of confidence in myself and my abilities. Before this summer, I would have never imagined that I could take charge of the INTERalliance career camp visit and lead students as they competed to design a new kind of educational environment. With the help and mentorship of KnowledgeWorks team members, I was able to make the visit a success. In addition, as a part of the communications department, I learned a lot about different ways of getting a message across. Writing blog posts, tweets and PowerPoint slides required me to tailor content to different audiences and find ways of expressing information both concisely and effectively. Designing posters and email headers led me to learn to balance my creativity and ideas with brand guidelines and outside input.

Most importantly, I gained something invaluable that I think every student should have access to: the experience of working in a business environment. Interacting with coworkers professionally, collaborating at meetings and discovering the unique culture of a workplace are things that you simply can’t learn while sitting at a desk.

One thing that I hope to take away from this internship is the ability to provide other students with advice that might help them on their career pathways. The most important piece of guidance that I’d like to share is that you should never underestimate how much you can gain by reaching out to professionals in a field that you’re interested in. During the past few weeks, I’ve met so many amazing people who have been happy to teach me what they know and help me with anything I might need. This leads into my next point—always be willing to try new things. My interests are mostly focused on writing and graphic design, but I’ve enjoyed learning about subjects like marketing software and competency-based education because in the year before I go to college, I’m trying to explore all of my options and keep an open mind. Lastly, don’t overlook the skills that you bring into a new situation. Today’s teenagers are completely immersed in a digital environment, and that means that we acquire abilities that are useful in the technology field without even making a conscious effort—we’ve grown up surfing the web, so these things are second nature to us. Do you have hundreds of followers on Twitter? You’re using social media marketing. Do you edit pictures to post on your Instagram? You’re learning the basics of graphic design. Understand the skills that you already have and build on them to further your goals in life.

I’ve had an amazing time discovering what it’s like to be a member of the KnowledgeWorks team. Although I’m sad to leave, I can’t wait to see where this experience will take me in the future.