Prior to going to Washington, D.C. for the summer, I was reading through information about the Karel Fellowship expectations when I came across a line that read “mentors will serve as the fellowship.” While I understood the value of mentoring, I was uncertain what this fully implied. Reflecting back on these past two months, however, having someone to guide me through the workplace was an aspect I appreciated most about the summer.

My mentor was Sean Gibbons of The Communications Network. When I read about him, a former producer of CNN and former vice president of a think tank organization, I had my reservations. As someone who has struggled with confidence in my own voice, I found it rather ironic I would be placed at an organization that focuses solely on communications. In addition to that, I had been paired with a mentor who was a communications pro. Needless to say I was intimidated. This fellowship would challenge me to express myself in a way I had yet to experience.CommNet_logo

As the weeks went by, however, I realized just how wrong I was. Sean really wasn’t there to intimidate me with his current position of power or through his past experiences. He was there to teach me not only about the field of communications, but how I as an individual can grow.

One day my mentor told me about a video he watched of Pablo Picasso painting an image of a bull. At the beginning of the video, the basic form of the bull was identifiable to viewers. Despite the fact that the image appeared to be finished, Picasso would keep manipulating it. The end result he had in mind was unlike the outcome his viewers envisioned. When he eventually finished the painting, Picasso had created a masterpiece. The moral of this story is that by marching to the beat of my own drum, I could produce work that would turn out a lot better than anything I could produce if I had based it on what I thought other people expected from me. To take who I am, own it, and run with it, is one of many lessons this internship, and more specifically my mentor, has given me.

Going forward, I will do my best to embrace whatever comes my way. I vow to look at professional relationships with less intimidation and more so with the outlook that through these experiences, these people have something to teach me. I am grateful for the fact that Sean will be my mentor long after this summer’s end and look forward to all that is yet to come.