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MIT student blogger Cydnie T. '12

The 12 Step Plan by Cydnie T. '12

don't pack too much, you probably wont use half of it anyway.

For a lot of you (maybe not all), interning over the summer will be your first experience test-driving real life. I say test-driving because you get to pretend to be an adult for a couple months before returning to the “freedoms” of college life.  As exciting as these summer opportunities may be, they are also a bit scary because you are tossed into a random new city (or country) sometimes alone. This probably won’t help much if you have any real problems but at least your summer will be in order. The great thing is, these tips can be applied to IAP adventures as well as post-graduation fun.

Of course you will have a supervisor to ask questions and plenty resources on campus to help you figure out the details of your adventure but I think this 12 step plan will do you some good too.


  1. Find something to do.

    Generally speaking, your options are to intern, volunteer, or do research. Some options (at MIT) to help find companies/things to do, are the Global Education & Career Development Center, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Public Service Center, and the MISTI Program.

    My summer internship was secured through the Public Service Center. My roommate, Brenda,  is working through MISTI and my buddy Chandler is doing a missions trip through Breaker of Dawn Ministries + an Internship. Here’s a sneak peak into what they’ve been doing.

    Brenda ’12 (Mexico): “I’m doing optical characterization of meat that will, in the future, help the local slaughterhouse to determine meat quality. I am located in Leon, Guanajuato but I have been able to travel to Morelos, Mexico City and Jalisco.”

    Chance ’14 (Israel/Tulsa, OK): “Earlier this summer a had the opportunity to travel to Israel with 21 other individuals, who are on fire for God, in order to learn Israel’s importance to the Christian faith, serve the people of Israel, and be commissioned as an ambassador for such a cause. Now I am at home in Tulsa, OK interning at American Airlines working on several projects within the facilities and plane maintenance/ environmental engineering department such as analyzing SAMMS (self assembling monolayers on mesoporous supports) – in it’s ability to remove hexavalent chromium from industrial wastewater, developing a database to track upkeep of safety equipment, and creating mathematical equations to the rate of decrease of ground water pollutants.”

  2. Get a place to stay.

    Hostels are usually the best bet for students. Apartment sharing with other interns or staying with family in the area are also good options. Wherever you decide to stay, some important things to look for would be the laundry set up, kitchen and bathroom arrangements, and internet options (ideal if they have wi-fi or stable ethernet connection).

    Sometimes the last item isn’t as readily available (especially if you are in another country or remote area) so don’t be disappointed if you can’t always have internet.

  3. Figure out transportation.

    Well you can’t just stay at home all day. Cars are great (minus having to park them and get gas). Bikes are fun. Walking is good for your health. Public transit is usually an adventure (and sometimes a dangerous one so be careful).

  4. Find the grocery store and a post office… and maybe a laundromat.

    You’re gonna need these.  The last one is a bit negotiable. You may have affordable laundry facilities where you find to live but in case you don’t, start collecting quarters. Eitherway, it’s always good to have clean undies. Unless you prefer to hand wash stuff…I’m not a fan.

  5. Learn your way home.


  6. Find a Starbucks for free wi-fi.

    No purchase necesary. This offer also extents to participating McDonalds and local Cafe’s.

    Having a couple backup wi-fi spots could be just what you need to keep your summer on track.

  7. Make a “101 Things to Do” list for that city or area.

    What’s the fun of being there if you don’t see everything?!

  8. Do something productive at work.

    As fun as being in a new place, surviving on your own, living the life might sound, in reality, you are there to work. So put your all into your assignments and learn as much as you can. Summer opportunities are about collecting knowledge, sharpening skills, and producing results. Get in there and demand a challenge. And never be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to do the best job you can.

  9. Make new friends.

    Preferably someone who knows their way around, it will come in handy, I promise. Be nice to your co-workers too. It never hurts to build your network.

  10. Take pictures.

    Try to be in a couple of them too. Evidence.

  11. Learn new stuff.

    If there are customs, languages, and foods central to your area, explore and get to know them. You are a temporary local, get used to it.

  12. Enjoy yourself!

    But not too much. Getting the most out of your summer should also include some quality rest and recuperation to prep you for the next school year. The “sleep is optional” rule shouldn’t apply to the summer.


Other helpful hints include:

  • Call your mom (read: guardian) …parents tend to worry sometimes.
  • Bring chargers, converters, & extra batteries…small extension cords don’t hurt either.
  • Send postcards to people. They make for cool souvenirs and you wont have to try to fit them in your already overstuffed luggage.
  • Have bug spray and sunscreen (if you need it…I personally managed to dodge that bullet – yay for built in sunblock! **).
  • Don’t pack too much, you probably wont use half of it anyway.
  • Don’t be stupid.



yea that’s about it… the rest I think you can figure out as you go :)




**This addendum is probably not approved by any doctors, healthcare professionals, or the FDA…and especially not the Surgeon General. So yeah, apply the “grain of salt” and “don’t be stupid” rules here.

2 responses to “The 12 Step Plan”

  1. I like your reasoning behind “be[ing] in a couple of [pictures].” Good stuff.

  2. Ayse Irmak says:

    Make a “101 things to do list” is great idea; and generally your post overloaded me with lots of inspiration ^^ Thanks!