How to be a Lifelong Learner as an Austin Intern

Posted on Monday, May 22, 2017

Aggies Commit means that at Texas A&M University, we are not satisfied with learning only while spending our short tenure at the school. We insist on forever taking advantage of every opportunity throughout our life to learn and continue to grow. As more and more Aggies experience opportunities to learn outside of campus, the cycle will continue and more Aggies will commit to developing themselves into disciplined leaders of character that are committed to serving the greater good through selfless service.

According to the Aggies Commit website, there are attributes of a lifelong learner that display in all their activities and opportunity. Some of these include curiosity, initiative, independence, transfer and reflection. In my internship, I plan to apply them to my job in order to be a lifelong learner.

Working in the office of the chair of transportation means that I am exposed to a wide variety of issues relating to transportation that I would never have the opportunity to be otherwise. For example, I am able to read material and go to meetings regarding managed toll lanes and other toll roads. This information is vital to the work of the transportation committee and I become more aware of what is facing the whole state of Texas. Curiosity drives me to learn more about the issues that I encounter during work.

Initiative and independence are two traits that go together for a lifelong learner. In order to become independent from course work, a person needs the drive to complete the required work and then the desire to continue on in learning. From this passion in learning, comes the ability and desire to learn more on a subject. In my experience, I plan to start find ways for me to educate myself on the issues independent of staff briefings or materials. As I become more knowledgeable, it will be easier for me to delve deeper and deeper into the legislative process.

Knowing information is an outstanding trait. However, being able to apply that information to new situation and that learning process to new areas is imperative to being a successful lifelong learner. To start transferring this skill to new avenues and to my internship, I will focus on not just learning about transportation issues and the legislative process in the Senate but also on  issues facing other committees and the differences between the process in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Being educated is important but being useful to the situation is much more practical.

The hardest skill to cultivate in that lifelong learns display is reflection. Being able to look back on experiences and learn what succeeded and what failed is critical but it also can mean self-criticism, which is often unwelcome. To develop this skill, I will begin to take feedback and reflection from my co-workers and supervisors in order to learn what to look for from an experience and how it can be improved upon. Eventually, I will be able to look at my actions and know how to improve some areas just as a result of this. These reflections will grow me as a worker and an individual.

A&M is committed to creating lifelong learners and this opportunity at the Texas Capitol is an amazing chance to set into practice just some of the traits that these people display. Through some of these actions, I hope to develop myself into one and be the disciplined leader of character that A&M expects me to be. 

Stephen Shuchart
Office of State Senator Robert Nichols
Austin, Texas | spring 2017