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When the pilot announced we were beginning our descent, I lifted the window visor to get my first look at Georgia. The green trees were a contrast with Phoenix’s desert scenery I was accustomed to, and the flight tracker on the back of the seat made it clear: I was 2,000 miles away from home.

I could feel my nerves increasing, but determination settled in as I remembered words from the video on the flight—“Good things come to those who go.” I had arrived in Atlanta, where I would spend the next 11 weeks interning in the Corporate Communications department of Delta Air Lines.

Just three weeks later, I was already contributing to the communications of a major project — Delta’s global employee uniform launch. At Delta, being an intern doesn’t mean you’re an observer - you’re another valued member of the team.

Since then I’ve toured Delta’s wide-ranging operations, interviewed TechOps line maintenance workers during the night shift, flew from Atlanta to New York twice in one day to staff a media event, interviewed inspiring Delta employees and much more than I could have ever imagined 11 weeks ago.

While these experiences have taught me so much, I’ve learned the most from the people here. Every employee I have met has reinforced Delta’s mantra that the company is a not just a workplace, but a family. Early on, one of my co-workers invited me to lunch and shared the advice to raise my hand and take on projects, even outside my assigned role. I made sure to live by that every day and watched others on the team routinely do the same.

No matter how much work someone was juggling, they were always willing to help a colleague. There was never a shortage of people raising their hands to ensure an event went smoothly, a press release went out on time – that Delta’s story was told. Every night, the team shared responsibilities for anything that could happen after hours that would need immediate attention. In an environment like this, it was impossible not to be inspired to do better and be better.

Even more impressively, I saw my co-workers treat each other with caring and respect. All summer long, birthday, sympathy and congratulations cards for a member of the team landed on my desk to sign—already full of thoughtful messages.

Speaking with two other interns to mark National Intern Day, it became clear that this attitude is felt across the company. Each intern comes from a different background, has a different focus and his or her own story, but no matter the differences we all became part of the Delta family.

Delta hires nearly 400 new interns or co-ops each year and this summer, there are more than 200 students at the airline’s world headquarters in Atlanta. The largest number are in programs at TechOps, Commercial Strategy, Finance and IT, but there are interns in almost every division throughout Delta.

As the summer comes to an end, I will return to Arizona State University for a two-year graduate program, having learned so much to carry back to school, into my career and into the future. While I and others aim to return to the Delta family, there’s no doubt that wherever we go, we will keep climbing.

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