Days have grown shorter, temperatures colder, field work more scarce, but opportunities for education remain. At this point in the internship (whether your five months have nearly run out or an extension has you still truckin’), some part of the required work has likely become repetitive. Maybe even mind-numbingly dull. But that is no excuse to cease learning something new every day.
Potential sources of new knowledge (may vary by field office):
- Supervisor: He or she has likely been working on or has at least been thinking about the project you are working on for a greater number of hours than you have. Ask about details of the project that may have never been explained to you or up to this point have not been relevant to your specific task. Get to know the reason for your work on a deeper level—it may help you appreciate it more. Or it may lessen your interest in the project. So it goes. Your supervisor may have further education beyond a B.A./B.S./etc. If you’re considering further education, ask about his/hers. He/she also has plenty of books and articles that likely overlap with your interests, whether or not they are project-related. If your project has you burned out, take an hour (*but I didn’t tell you to) to read something new or further your understanding of something old.
- Co-workers: I would recommend at least a portion of your learning from this group stick to non-work-related topics, to keep the knowledge varied. Most of your co-workers are older than you. Experiences–good, great, or not-so-great–are worth hearing. You may also decide you don’t like the way a co-worker approaches a situation or handles an issue—that’s still education. You can avoid such an approach, or perhaps teach them something new.
- Nature: As the snow falls, animal tracks become easier to see, find, follow, and learn. Study every track you see, follow it for a while. Is it straight, purposeful? Casual? Being chased by something? Stay quiet and you will undoubtedly find several of the tracks’ creators.
- Your SELF: Rather than completely leaving your physical being for the euphoria of a daydream, speak to yourself in a foreign language. Even if you haven’t studied it since high school, spit out as many words or phrases as you can remember. Challenge your memory. Even if the language doesn’t exist, humor yourself by making one up. Or review multiplication tables in your head, or write a story or poetry. Bottom line: Challenge your brain, keep your mind fresh, and smile every day.
If you’re caught in an 8 (or 10) hour, day-in, day-out battle of computer-front tedium, it seems to me that you may as well LEARN SOMETHING!