My name is Graham Hyde and I am currently a junior (part of the 2018 CSS cohort). My initial plan for the summer of 2020 was to return to my previous internship as a research intern for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division. However, the unexpected pandemic forced my internship to shut down Due to CSS’s strong communal nature, a fellow scholar informed me of this opportunity and I applied to an internship called the Innovate Maryland Summer Program. I was a consultant intern within a group of University of Maryland students which aimed to improve the service delivery process of the university’s division of IT.
The internship was three months long and it was purely virtual – a much different work environment than I, and many others I suspect, have experienced before. There were three phases to the internship: researching the field of IT service management and identifying weak points in UMD’s service delivery, interviewing faculty and subject experts, and synthesizing data and creating recommendations to improve the service delivery process. The most important thing I learned from this experience was how impactful creative group collaboration can be in terms of the quality of work that is produced. Given the internship was run entirely through online meetings, no one ever connected on a personal level – we were all there for each other simply to provide needed information or offer extra work. There was no, “Hey, how’re you doing today?” This experience not only taught me my skills are best suited for scientific research, but it proved to me that forming meaningful relationships, or at least trying to, can improve the quality of work that a group produces. Feeling supported and welcoming creativity brings the best out in all group members, which ultimately brings in as many perspectives as possible and often produces the best work achievable.
I learned from this internship I will not be pursuing business or technical consultation in my future; the experience allowed me to figure out what I don’t want to do, which I’ve learned is just as helpful as knowing roughly what you want to do. I will certainly stick to fundamental physical research and continue pursuing a job in alternative energy research. To summarize, I learned how to communicate with brevity and professionalism from this internship; I learned how to handle myself around those who were senior to me in terms of the organizational hierarchy; I learned the importance of supportive group collaboration and the effectiveness of appreciating others. The last point about appreciation became very clear to me at the conclusion of the internship because Dr. Lester and the CSS program as a whole implements this principle all the time – appreciate the work of others and they will be encouraged to work harder and push their abilities, making both the organization and scholars better.