And that’s something I didn’t fully come to appreciate until DukeEngage. I remember coming into the program not completely knowing what to expect of the city, the work or the fellow Duke students I would be staying with. In the end, I learned a lot about not only the city and a new potential career path, but also myself and how I approach new situations.
Working with the Corktown Economic Development Corporation was my first experience in a nine-to-five working environment. From learning about the history and significance of Corktown to grappling with new design softwares, we learned a lot of new material on the job.
The diversity of the job made it even better by giving us more opportunities to soak in knowledge. On some days, my site partner, Joe, and I would go to Corktown for surveying. On others, we’d attend community engagement meetings and talk to residents. We even attended a national design and development conference towards the beginning our internship (and admittedly felt lost a decent amount of the time). Mostly, however, we’d be in the office researching or compiling data.
But even just in the office, everyday conversations proved to be an opportunity to learn. Joe and I heavily worked with Shamil Khedgikar, a graduate intern from Cornell. Rather than just teaching us about the project we’d be working on, chatting with him on breaks tended to teach us a lot as well. A typical Shamil-conversation consisted of him excitedly raving about his favorite mathematician (“dude, he’s a legend man”) or telling Joe and I about an obscure band we had never heard of. I even remember going back to the apartments after a full day of work and looking up the science of juggling —yet another random topic Shamil introduced us to. Though seemingly inconsequential at the time, these conversations added to both Joe and my experiences. At the end of the program we were in agreement that we couldn't imagine the summer without it.
On a personal note, I can’t imagine the summer without the the people I met along the way. After a full day of work, it was refreshing to come back to a bustling apartment filled with chatter on the days work, excitement for the upcoming weekend, and the smell of someone cooking (and sometimes burning) their dinner. From freaking out about The Giver with Caroline during movie nights, to watching Mabel whip up some omelets in the morning, to walks with Keiley to the gym, to witnessing Ben’s obsession with Justin Bieber —I can’t imagine a summer with any other group.
A special thank you to Matt Nash and Katherine Black for an amazing summer experience!