The Train Ride
I gripped the handle bar that lay adjacent to the train’s entrance. It was filled, beyond capacity, to my genuine surprise. However, as I look back on that moment, I had forgotten that I was taking the morning train with hundreds of working class citizens, who probably thought of me as one of their own. My body turned as I glanced around for any vacant seats. Seconds passed before I surrendered to standing. The hand, which I placed on the bar upon my entrance, was my saving grace because the train quickly jolted into motion.
I peered out of a window to my right. The platform, where I had sat, and the parking lot, where I had been dropped off at, quickly went out of my line of sight. This was not my first time riding a train, but it was my first time riding a train to work.
As the train continued forward, a conductor appeared from the front cart. Immediately, she began checking and validating passengers tickets. She was was a couple of rows away from where I was standing, but I started the process of searching for my trans pass. A minute or two passed before I was up for inspection.
“Ticket or Pass?”
“Yeah” was my response as I brought my pass into view. She nodded in confirmation as she moved onto the next person. Instinctively, I looked at my phone to see if the train would arrive on time. This was a routine that I would soon get into the habit of doing.
After my time check, I concluded that the train was on schedule. My thoughts escaped me, I found myself thinking about what my friends were doing at that very moment, as my train inched closer and closer Suburban station. I attempted to conceal my anxiety but my thoughts continually drifted to the “what if” questions and possible outcomes at my internship.
“We have arrived at Suburban Station. Please watch your step as you exit the cart” echoed out of the loudspeaker. In one fluid motion I secured my belongings and departed.
It took me all of ten minutes to find my way to 19th & market, not including a minor turn around as I was walking. Four days prior to the 6th of July, my sister and I were down center city and she showed me how to get to and back from my current destination, which ironically, was right down the street from my school. I chuckled to myself as I approached the my destination, while very thankful for my good memory.
In the ten steps that I had before I reached the revolving doors, I felt as Tim O'Brien must have felt as he gazed blankly out onto the river that separated two distinct paths, one of which, he would have to choose. Should I step into this building, to the unknown experiences that await me? Should I face challenges that might be too much for me to handle, or should I return home? My hand pressed against metal framing of the door as an opening to the main lobby grew wider.
I took a brief moment to take in my surroundings. The room was made almost entirely of a tan granite, which encompassed the back walls, ceiling and floor. There were large windows that neighbored each entrance, as well as a waiting area filled with couches and tables. As my eyes floated from object to object I soon located people that seemed to be around my age group. As I began my journey towards them, I made a detour to one of the internship leaders.
“Are you here for the internship?” he asked immediately.
“Yes. I’m Kevin Bowser” I said as we shook.
“I’m Stephen. The elevators are not working today as a result of a water pipe break in the building. So we are sending all of the intern's home today for the day and are going to send an email out about when to return for orientation.
“Okay, so I should look out for an email tomorrow?
“Alright, thank you” I stated as I traveled to a couch which was adjacent to the door I came though. I couldn’t help the slight feeling of relief that came with the postponed orientation. I would have another day or so before I would have to tackle this new challenge. Some force of nature had been on my side that July morning. And with my subsided anxiety, I ventured over to the revolving doors once again.
My Second First Day
The IBC building has two elevator passages. One passage ascends from the lobby and goes through all floors up to the 23rd. In order to reach floors above the 23rd, you must switch elevators. Unfortunately, I did not receive this information until my third day at work, so it took me a bit longer to find my way up to the orientation room.
Once I made it to the 44th floor, the facilitators introduced themselves as well as IBC to all of the interns. This formal introduction transitioned to various ice breaker activities, which assisted everyone in getting to know each other. Some of the games were based on solving problems or creating structures using basic household materials, and prizes were awarded to the teams that finished first.
The third and final portion of the afternoon consisted of each intern meeting with their supervisors. I did not get a chance to meet with my supervisor, who was in a meeting at the time. So I met with a woman named Grace Brennan, who I would come to work closely with over the next six weeks.
“Hi, I’m Kevin Bowser” I said as I shook her hand.
“Hello Kevin, my name is Grace. I don’t know if anyone told you but Dee has a meeting right now.”
Grace said this as she moved towards the hallway where the elevators were located. On our way down to the Shared Services Department, on the 15th floor, we talked about my academics as well as some the information she had read on my resume.
“So me and you are going to working on updating an Excel spreadsheet called the SARA log. The log is basically a record book that keeps track of everyone that has access the company’s enrollment system. We get requests every day, so right now they are just piling up.”
I listened intently, not letting a single piece of information slip past my ears. I wanted to make a good first impression on my new co-workers. I wanted to be take charge and not make any errors. Yet, once we reached the 15th floor, Grace introduced me to the rest of Dee’s team. They welcomed me to the department with open arms and made me feel like I was apart of the family. I was taught step by step about how to work on excel and how it’s overall significance to the company. Instantly, I felt a weight fall off of my shoulders. This daunting reality that I wanted to avoid at all costs, was not the frightening nightmare that I had imagined.
This experience gave me my first taste of the professional world. It served as a lens to some of the challenges and new territories that I would be introduced to as an adult. Apart, from outlook on the internship prior to actually starting, this was a spontaneous opportunity for me, and I look forward to another great internship at Independence Blue Cross this upcoming summer.