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Summer Internship: Adulting and Navigating Professional and Personal Life in D.C.

Summer Internship: Adulting and Navigating Professional and Personal Life in D.C.

Theary Heang is currently attending Gettysburg College, class of 2024.

Walking along the streets of the apartment complex neighborhood area in Arlington, Virginia, I felt the warm morning sun touching my face. My eyes scanned the new, unfamiliar blocks that would be my home for the summer. Upon arriving at the metro station, I joined many others waiting for the next subway train headed to the city center. While waiting for the train, I realized how calm and familiar I felt, moving about the metro, and figuring my way through the crowd, even though it was the first day of this fresh experience. 

The train arrived, and as I boarded, I waited patiently, counting the stops until we reached a station called “Farragut West”. I got off and after walking for a few minutes, I arrived at the office building where I would be interning for the summer. I was filled with excitement and readiness for this new and thrilling experience. I was about to embark on my 10-week internship at Lockton, an insurance brokerage company, as a Summer Associate for Global Benefit Practice. I was determined to learn as much as I could about the insurance industry and global benefit management practices, as well as exploring my interest in the field. 

As a Global Benefit Associate Intern, I was able to work alongside analysts and consultants who work with multinational firms and organizations that require assistance in navigating their employees’ benefits across different countries worldwide. I developed my understanding of global employee benefit consulting and the insurance market, gained insights into clients’ businesses, conducted benefit benchmarking to aid the team in evaluating client insurance programs, performed data and financial analyses, and carried out other tasks to support the team’s efforts. Throughout the ten-week program, I established connections and fostered relationships with amazing individuals within the team, as well as with fellow associates in the company. This allowed me to form bonds and connections that extended to my fellow interns. 

In conjunction with my internship, I also participated in a Washington Summer Fellowship Program provided by the Eisenhower Institute through Gettysburg College. As part of the program, I attended weekly seminars where experts from various fields, ranging from career and professional development to social issues like immigration, homelessness, technology, and national security, came to speak and share their insights with us. These seminars introduced me to different social issues and on-going efforts to make positive impacts and helped me stay focused on my passion and goals as I navigated the summer. 

During the weekends, I participated in fellowship walking tours to get to know the different neighborhoods of DC. This went beyond mere tourism; it involved delving into the history, recognizing the social issues that have unfolded, and witnessing how much change each neighborhood had undergone over the years. This combination of activities provided me with a profound understanding of Washington DC in ways I had never imagined.

While I was growing professionally and gaining educational insights, I found myself, for the first time, embracing independent living as I navigated life in the city. Although it was a bit challenging at first, I adapted to my new routine and responsibilities alongside the internship and fellowship. I developed new hobbies and devised strategies for maintaining an affordable lifestyle in the city. I planned weekly trips to the grocery store and enjoyed cooking food from home. I took advantage of my surroundings and would go to museums, parks, national malls, and the public library. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library became my favorite library as they had a wonderful selection of books and exhibitions constantly popping up on the main floor. 

Living and working in DC has truly been a transformative journey that I will forever hold dear. This experience of gaining independence both in my professional and personal life pushed me out of my comfort zone. It not only enabled me to tackle challenges head-on but also broadened my horizons, leaving me with cherished memories and profound connections with friends and colleagues. I am incredibly grateful for the enriching and meaningful summer I have had. Each day brought forth fresh experiences and learning prospects, in conjunction with my internship and fellowship. As I approach my senior year, I am confident that this journey has prepared me for life after graduation.