How the IOL Taught Me Leadership as a HighTech Bound Supervisor

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be a supervisor for the HighTech Bound Summer Internship Program at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL). I was very familiar with the program as I worked as an intern the summer before my freshman year at Colby College. When school ended in May, I thought to ask the IOL if they had any summer positions. I was put in touch with the Director of the IOL, Erica Johnson, who told me about an intern supervisor opening. After having had a positive experience as an intern the past summer, this opportunity seemed very exciting to me. When I was an intern I was able to use my computer science experience from high school to work on Java programming development. I had never previously  worked on a large scale development project before, so I learned a significant amount that helped me prepare for both college and the real world. When the summer approached,  I was looking forward to supporting a new group of interns to ensure that they had an equally positive experience.

Coming back to the IOL was an amazing experience. I worked closely with Aaron Hill, Catie Rencricca, and Natalie Zucco, three of this years HighTech Bound high school interns. Each intern worked to finish a project that was designed to use their current skill set while introducing new concepts in order to challenge them and expand their knowledge. Before they started, I worked on planning each individual project. This prepared me to direct and assist each of them when they had questions. With this responsibility, I was required to be involved in all three projects on a daily basis, allowing me to go in depth and learn about many aspects of each project.

Not only was this position a great learning experience from a technology standpoint, it was also a great way to develop my leadership skills. With multiple interns working on complex projects, there were many moving pieces. I was responsible for making sure that none of them were stuck and unable to move forward. In order to do this, I had to be one step ahead to ensure they were not waiting for me to assign a new task. As a supervisor, I also was able to experiment with different types of leadership and teaching tactics to find which ones were most effective.  

My favorite part of managing interns was being able to work through problems throughout the day. Helping them when they hit roadblocks felt like solving puzzles, which is a challenge that I have always loved about engineering and is a reason I was drawn to this field. I enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level, and look forward to keeping in touch with them as we continue our educations and begin our careers in STEM fields.

Overall, being an intern supervisor was an exciting and unique experience. Not only was I able to work in the field of my major, I was also able to gain leadership experience at a young age. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to explore if a management role would be something I would like to pursue in the future. I am thankful for another great opportunity to learn and explore technology at the UNH InterOperability Lab.