Dec 19, 2018 Michael Mercier / UAH Today we spotlight Patricia Chamblee - a junior studying Communication Arts in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at UAH. She discusses her time working for ADTRAN in user experience and the importance of being self-driven in the workforce. 1. What is your major and hometown? Communication Arts and I was born in Montgomery Village, Maryland. 2. What made you choose your major? Originally, I was interested in working in journalism and the media industry. Now, it’s user experience design. 3. What made you choose UAH? It’s not only close to home, but a reputable university for career-oriented students. 4. What has been the biggest lessons you have learned from your co-op or internship? The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that in the career world, your experience really is what you choose to make of it. If you put forth the time and effort, you can make any pursuit pay off in the end. 5. What surprised you, if anything, about your co-op or internship? I was surprised by how self-driven the work environment is, and also just how much coworkers trust and respect each other in their efforts. It was a nice surprise, because it really makes me feel like I have a voice that can be heard and valued. 6. What is one thing you would tell someone interested in obtaining a co-op or internship? Although GPA and technical skills are very important, what employers also really look at is your involvement in hands-on projects as well as the community. This includes extra-curriculars, keeping a healthy work-life balance, and a persistence to commit to endeavors that are important to you. 7. What is one thing you wish you would have known before you started your co-op or internship? I wish I had known sooner that it’s okay to make mistakes or not have all the answers right away. Even if your internship involves solving complex problems, it’s meant to be a learning experience. Sometimes, experiencing what doesn’t work opens the doors to the most creative and well-thought out solutions. 8. How has your co-op or internship grown you as a person? My co-op has helped me learn to get out of my comfort zone and advocate for myself. It’s also shown me just how much real-world potential my talents and skills have when I find a practical place to apply them. 9. What has been the funniest thing that has happened to you at your co-op or internship? One time, in the middle of an already fairly laid back team meeting, a coworker had a very distracting Halloween-themed Burger King cup (it had images of floating fingers and pickles on it), and I was noted as the one team member who was able to stare at it with a straight face throughout the whole meeting and still focus on the agenda, holding back my own thoughts and comments on it until someone else inevitably brought it to attention. 10. What is one lesson you had to learn the hard way? One life lesson I’ve had to learn is that on a typical day in a research-focused career, you drive your own bus. In other words, you need to be self-motivated in your projects not only to contribute the full value to your job, but for the job to present its full value to you as well. That’s why it’s so important you find something meaningful to you before you choose to commit the time and effort to it.