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Gavin Epperson: Cerner Summer Software Internship

Anyone else feel really unprepared for a full time job? This summer, I was given the opportunity to work full time for ten weeks at Cerner, a healthcare IT company in Kansas City, Missouri. They provide different types of software for hospitals around the world: patient management software, government document digitization, hospital employee management software – wait, wait, don’t fall asleep! That’s what the company does in general, not what I did specifically. I got to create a website for Cerner developers to use to test their code, and I got to do it all from home. This was my first ever internship and my first time working full time, meaning there was a lot for me to learn. Here are three of those things:

First of all, eight hours a day is a lot more than it sounds! Going from sleeping half the day and waking up at 1:00 pm to starting work at 7:30 am everyday and finishing at 4:30 pm was a definite growing pain. By the time you clock out, the day is basically over, which sucks, but it at least makes weekends all the more sweet. It definitely got easier as the weeks went by, but this was something that never fully stopped weighing me down.

Second, you shouldn’t be afraid of asking for help:  If you’re going in new, you’re likely not going to know anything. I definitely didn’t. In my situation, I would pretty often run into problems understanding the existing Cerner software and how to interact with it. My coworkers were always happy to answer any questions I had, and even though I sometimes felt like I was being needy or annoying, I really did need to ask, because without their help, I would have been totally lost. Don’t be like I was for the first couple weeks and waste an important resource just because you don’t want to bother anyone or sound stupid. Good coworkers will expect you to need help and will be more than happy to explain stuff to you if you reach out. 

Third and finally, you should make the most of your situation! I did my entire internship remotely, meaning there were downsides, like the fact that I never got to see my coworkers or other interns face to face. Despite these drawbacks, there were definite benefits to remote work:  I didn’t have to commute, I had the ability to reach out to coworkers with detailed questions instantly, and I could legitimately work from anywhere (with wifi). I was feeling stir crazy one day and went to a coffee shop (socially distanced, of course) to work. No need to ask off work or schedule anything, just sit down and get to work! Obviously, everyone’s situation is different, and nothing is perfect, but you have to look at the positives or else you’ll be unhappy no matter where you are.

As cheesy as it is, I think that’s the biggest lesson and overall theme of my time at Cerner:  You can steer your life however you choose. I don’t think anyone absolutely loves work. That’s why it’s work. But I do think you can choose how much you get out of it and how much you enjoy it. This summer, I chose to see the positives in my situation and make use of them whenever I could. I hope you could relate to some of these and, wherever you are, I hope you have some fun today! You deserve it.