Before starting my internship to the Chamber, I had never worked a day in my life. While this is not completely unheard of among 17-year-olds, I knew that I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to gain valuable early working experience.
My own experiences at the Chamber have taught me many things. I learned how to use Excel, how to navigate and utilize the database system, and how to take advantage of all types of design software in order to create stunning infographics. While I initially did mostly database work, I was soon given many graphic design projects. Through the design work, I discovered how much I enjoy taking a blank page and turning it into something beautiful.
While many of us begin our internships with little practical experience, we leave with skills and knowledge that we could not have gotten without the exposure inherent in any internship. Aside from developing valuable skills, I gained valuable insight into how a Chamber of Commerce runs, as well as how all types of businesses function and are integrated with one another. Working in the database showed me how diverse many of the industries are that belong to the Chamber community. At first, I was puzzled how such contrasting businesses could all feel that they had something to gain from a membership at the Chamber, but I soon realized how important being a part of this community is in order to thrive. From the small, close-knit community of the Chamber employees to the large community of Arlington itself, it is vital to be connected with those around you.
Interning this summer has proven to be an invaluable experience for me and will continue to benefit me in my future endeavors. I would strongly urge any company to take an intern for even just a couple weeks, as there are many mutual benefits of such an exchange. For one, having interns is a way for companies to get involved with the community and give back to the new generation. Additionally, interns are an extra helping hand in the office, and can often provide refreshing new approaches to old methods. Lastly, by taking on interns, companies are increasing the value of the next generation of employees that they could be hiring in a few years. This small act of opening opportunities to help others creates a ripple effect of good faith that will eventually come full circle back to its origin—and it all starts with you.