A Breath of Fresh Air: My Personal Experience and Development as an Intern

I accepted my internship at UCSB expecting not to have much free time. I had never had a full-time job or anything resembling such work hours and so I fully expected to be extremely busy. Work typical hours from 9am to 5pm, come back and cook dinner and the day would pretty much be gone. I was then pleasantly surprised to find I had a great deal of time outside of work to hang out with new friends I’ve met, travel and explore the beautiful city of Santa Barbara, and even relax and work on my hobbies in exercising and reading.

During my undergraduate career I was never the most diligent worker and I constantly had problems with time management and procrastination. I’d find myself going to my classes during the day, then spending the afternoon and evening just dilly-dallying and hoping I would eventually start my homework. The internet is such a great way to waste time and it just pulled endless hours out of me as I opened and closed the same social media sites again and again. I definitely noticed this happening and identified it as a huge problem in my life, and so I vowed to spend significantly less time on the computer as soon as I came to my Santa Barbara. New city, new mentality. And so far I’d say it’s been a huge success!

One of the best things I did for myself the first day of my internship was introduce myself to as many people as possible. I’m currently roommates with another intern from a different program, and that first day I had a decision to attend the welcome meeting that was specifically for my roommate’s program, or to stay in and rest after a long day. Choosing to be more open and meet the rest of his program completely opened me up to a whole new circle of students just like myself. All the other interns have been so amazingly intelligent, social and eager to learn. We’re all in very similar programs and it’s been such a pleasure to connect and grow with the rest of them.

In addition, after my typical 8 hour workdays at UCSB I’ve found cutting back on computer usage completely unclogged my schedule. I’ve been able to go to the gym after work as it’s so convenient and the gym itself is absolutely massive. In the evenings I find myself hanging out with my peers, whether it’s making a good meal, playing pool, or just talking while sipping a good drink. And on the weekends I’m more active than I thought I’d ever be; I’ve been hiking three times and been to four different beaches in three weeks (Arroyo Burro Beach was the best by far!) as well as tried some delicious restaurants on State Street. It’s truly been a blessing to be able to make meaningful contributions in cutting-edge research in one of the most beautiful cities on the West Coast. This internship so far has really helped me develop into a more social, active and independent individual.

James Thi

James is a 4th year Computer Engineering Major studying at UC Riverside. He is working in Prof. Luke Theogarajan's lab this summer in the Biomimetics Circuits and Nanosystems Group. Some of his hobbies include reading, running and piano.