A Week of Firsts
National Intern Day was last Thursday, July 25 and it got me thinking a lot about the value of internships and education and training in our industry. Of course, for the glass and metal industry some internships are called apprenticeships, but the concept is the same: learn by doing. And sometimes what you learn from an internship is not what you expected at all.
I am a case in point. At the tender age of 17, I decided I wanted to do “good” for the world. My Dad, who was in insurance, wanted me to be an actuary. In his mind, actuaries were at the top of the insurance food chain because they knew how long people were going to live and were paid handsomely for that skill. (Okay, okay, true confession: this was at a time when most fathers didn’t actually think their daughters could be actuaries, due to gender no doubt, so Dad always used to say, “Good night, and don’t forget—marry an actuary.”)
But I had no interest in being or marrying one, and instead wanted to help kids of all backgrounds and cultures to love mathematics the way I did. So I decided to become a bilingual math teacher. My declared majors were Math and Spanish with a minor in Education so that I could teach math—in English or Spanish—wherever it was needed. Armed with very questionable Spanish speaking skills, I got my first internship junior year as a student teacher in Upstate New York. I was so excited to be teaching I didn’t let the fact that I would be teaching Spanish, rather than math, during my internship deter me. No sir, I was ready.
Internships can give you lessons you carry for life. Tara Taffera, our vice president for editorial services, interned with Security Management magazine in Washington, D.C., the summer before her senior year in college.
“It was an amazing experience,” she says. “Most of it was due to my supervisor who I still speak to today and who has served as a mentor throughout my career. I was able to write articles and participate in all facets of the magazine process. This included sitting in a meeting with all editors to brainstorm and choose the cover blurb for one of the issues, and was delighted when mine was chosen!”
Our account exec Casey Flores concurs. “I once had an internship recruiting people to a creative media training program,” he says. “More than anything it taught me how to communicate on the phone and the importance of persistence when it comes to sales.”
Sometimes internships teach you other things. For instance, mine taught me that I should never, ever be a high school teacher. I’d always been a good student who did what I was supposed to. Until I started teaching tenth-grade Spanish, it never occurred to me that not everyone was the same. In fact, a good majority of the students seemed like they wanted to be anywhere—even in detention—rather than in that class.
I didn’t have a frame of reference for how to teach to kids who didn’t want to learn. In later years, I came to realize that was more a failing of mine than theirs.
As I finished my internship, I began to realize that what I really loved was this part-time job I had at the student newspaper. Though I was in the business end of it, I started writing more and eventually rose to the publishing role there and found my forever-home in publishing, which led me to publishing for the glass industry. And even now, I still love it.
Someone once told me that the two things we should hold most dear in our lives, beyond the people in them, are our education and our experiences. They teach us to be human and they can never, ever be taken away from us. So a salute to everyone who continues to gain education at any stage—as interns and beyond.
That is why it was especially fitting to see the announcement last week that the Architectural Glass & Metal Technician (AGTM) certification program had certified its first 177 glaziers. During the past 2½ years, program manager AMS has developed an ANSI-accredited certification program being used in certain segments of the industry. Education has no bounds.
Have a great week,
P.S.: What was your first job and/or internship? I would love to know what you did and what lessons you learned and maybe we can even make a story out of it. Let me know.