Kuder intern Grace Winders recently caught up with former Waukee High School classmate Mary Piechowski, who completed a high school internship through a School-to-Work program that uses Kuder Navigator® to help students explore potential career pathways. Here's how she says her life has changed, and stayed the same, since she went to college. To learn more about Mary, read this profile featuring her and her parents.
Have your career plans and choice of major changed at all from when you first started college?
My major [business] hasn’t changed, but my career path is more broad. Now that I've come to college, [I’ve discovered] the many more opportunities I have within my major.
What are the most useful qualities or skills you’ve gained from college so far?
Independence as well as improving my time management skills. I have an internship and a full courseload, so I don’t have much time to rest. I make sure everything gets done and done well. You learn how to prioritize your time, otherwise you will not succeed.
Tell me about your most memorable college experiences so far.
My most memorable experience so far in college was the whole first week. Everyone wants to make friends just like you do so it’s a social week. They had events that were required and others that you had the choice of going to, I tried to go to as many as possible. We had bag toss in the quad, group activities in the stadium and later a concert at homecoming. I tried to submerse myself as much as possible to know what the [college] life was all about.
What “life lessons” have you learned so far as a college student?
You have a choice to sink or swim. The amount of effort you put in is what you will get out of classes, work, and relationships. Managing these things can be tough, but it’s just practice and preparation for life after school.
Do you have any advice for students (like me) heading off to their first year of college?
College and especially freshman year is meant to make friends, figure out the college lifestyle and join as many school related activities as possible. A year later you live somewhere else and you figure out who you stay friends with and what your interests really are as you had a chance to see what was out there [and explore] freshman year.
What surprised you most about the transition from high school to college?
The courseload. The professors know you’re new and take it easy on you while explaining anything if you need assistance. It’s a big change, but they help you through it.
Any plans for the summer?
I will be continuing my internship as a special events intern. It will keep me busy!
Tell me more about your internship.
My internship is mainly for a fun music festival held in Minneapolis. I also work [on] fundraising events. I have learned many valuable skills, [like] time management, but also flexibility. You must be flexible in your work to [go] that extra mile. I have meetings with committees once a month, which isn't required, but to stay in the loop you want to be involved in as much as you can to get ahead. You need to be ready for anything ... [and] in my future career, I plan to give it my all in order to advance and succeed.
In what ways did your previous experience as an intern during high school help prepare you for your college internship?
My past internship prepared me and taught me everything [I needed to know] to do my current job. It was a fantastic opportunity that definitely earned me my current position – because the skills I acquired, I utilize every day at my job.
What does the future hold for you?
I haven’t decided on a future career yet, but I know I would like to pursue a career in business, most likely in operations management.
A Student's Perspective: "If you're interested in your work, you'll be happy."
Waukee High School Students Gain Real-World Experience
- college and career readiness