by Maggie Sutton@maggie_sutton
Dear Future NODA Intern:
Four states, three student groups, and two months later, my NODA internship experience at the University of Alabama in Huntsville has officially come to a close.
During my time at UAH I learned a lot of things. I learned a lot about first year student transition and retention. I learned more about the role student engagement plays in the first year experience. I even learned how to properly construct a balloon bouquet. (Always an odd number of balloons… three, five, or seven. NO EVEN NUMBERS!)
Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself and what role I should play in the world of Student Affairs. I learned that student leadership is important to me. I discovered that I have a knack for coming up with innovative and fun training exercises. I learned that it’s important for me to be able to build a relationship with a group of students overtime. I learned that the students always come first – no matter the distance between them and your job title.
Future NODA intern, you are about to embark on a journey that is stressful, fast-paced, and sometimes a little out of control. Allow the journey to take you down the path you are meant to go. Don’t try to fight the current because of your own preconceived ideas about what you think you want to learn.
Say yes to every opportunity that comes across you desk, even if it’s not on your job description. You never know what you will learn from that experience, who you will meet, or how much fun you will have.
Travel… travel a lot! Even if where you’re going isn’t a “tourist destination,” I promise there are things worth seeing there. Eat at local restaurants, take part in community traditions, and ask about the cities in the surrounding area. This is your one opportunity to explore a new place without spending a whole lot of money.
Speaking of money… don’t except a NODA internship because it’s got the highest pay listed out of all of the applications. Your NODA experience is not about how much money you have in your pocket at the end of the summer. Pick the NODA internship that fits the best for you. Take advantage of the non-monetary things that your internship does offer – like a gym membership, housing on campus, or a meal plan. Some of my best memories were made with the regulars in Zumba class at the University Fitness Center.
Make new friends and get to know new people. Not only will it make your experience more fun and less lonely, you can also use these connections in your future professional endeavors. Student Affairs is a small field… you will probably see them again at least once!
Most of all, take lots of pictures and make time to take it all in. It goes by way too fast! I sure do miss the Charger Nation already.
From the Charger Nation and the Gator Nation, best of luck to you, NODA intern. I know you will love it.