by Garret Meier
Hey there, I hope you’re having a great day!
Already a few weeks into the semester, I’m sure you’ve all gotten used to hearing the classic ‘get to know you’ questions, and you have probably memorized the response. Right now, mine goes about like this, “I’m Garret Meier, a sophomore in Software Engineering, and I’m taking a semester off.”
Woah, woah, woah! Hold on just one hot minute, you might be thinking. What do you mean you’re taking a semester off?
Yep. During the Fall semester, while classes are in session at Iowa State and studying is in full swing, I’m taking an alternate route that doesn’t involve homework or professors. Now, before you go thinking I’m spending this fall watching as much netflix as possible, let me explain. I’m spending my time interning for a Silicon Valley-based startup called Bunchball at their office in Des Moines. I’ve been learning all kinds of applicable skills as well as getting experience in a position exactly like the one a graduate in my major would have.
So far this internship has been filled with all kinds of real life in addition to all of the technical learning. The biggest change for me was switching from the dorm atmosphere with every friend you could want within a 10 minute walk, to a studio apartment where the only distractions are me, myself, and I. Fortunately, living in Des Moines means means Ames is only a short drive away.
This experience has taught me, more than anything else, that the traditional four year college experience isn’t the only, or necessarily the best, way to traverse your college years. Going into my freshman year, I had no idea the opportunities for alternative experiences, and I would never have guessed that I would be spending 5 months working rather than studying. I’ve learned that part of the beauty of of the college experience is its flexibility. This is especially true at Iowa State where the career services offices are ready and willing to ensure you have the best experience in your internship or international experience.
So go out there and don’t be afraid to have a different memorized story to answer the classic intro questions! Trying an unconventional experience is just another great way to learn through Iowa State, and I know that you’ll be welcomed back with open arms!