Who knew an internship could have such an impact on a college student? Not me! My name is Emily Wilburn, and I had the privilege of interning for Growing Leaders this summer. I am a rising senior at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. I am majoring in Business Management and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Non-Profit Management. Throughout my search for an internship, I was told that Growing Leaders had a great program and decided to apply. I was expecting a summer of professional growth, but I couldn’t have imagined the main perks of interning with Growing Leaders.
- Making coffee was not my main task.
As you know, interns are typically given basic busywork. Stereotypically, if no one else in the office has time or enjoys a task, it is given to an intern. I can say this was not the case for my summer. While I did learn to make coffee during my time at Growing Leaders, my list of responsibilities was much more comprehensive. Because of my interest in non-profit management, I was able to work with The Growing Leaders Foundation and its Development Coordinator, Alysse Whatley, who served not only as my supervisor but also as a mentor and friend. I was taught by example the importance of doing everything with excellence, how to serve others well, and the importance of being a life-long learner. These are things you learn through experiences, not through shadowing, and I am thankful my internship was experiential.
- I was connected with business professionals.
One exciting perk that I was not expecting was the amount of business owners and professionals that I had the privilege of interacting with. The full-time staff at Growing Leaders went above and beyond to introduce interns to people who they believed would help us along our career path. These connections happened by inviting successful professionals to lunch at the office, meeting them at events, or by having one-on-one meetings over lunch with board members. For instance, one intern this summer wants to work with professional baseball teams, so Dr. Tim Elmore connected him with a professional from the Atlanta Braves.
While I am not certain what lies ahead for life after graduation, Growing Leaders has certainly set me up for success with all of the contacts that I made this summer. I respect that instead of being threatened by other connections, Growing Leaders encouraged us interns to cultivate new relationships. Any student looking for an internship should also find a company that promotes networking.
- I got as much value as I brought.
I am proud to say that throughout my summer, I was able to add value to Growing Leaders, specifically within The Growing Leaders Foundation. In preparation for this experience, I read a blog on how to become the ‘best intern.’ The last tip was to become a key player in the office, to the point that when you leave, the company feels your absence. I would like to believe that happened this summer, but I am certain that I have felt the absence of Growing Leaders since returning to school.
The culture that Growing Leaders has crafted is unbelievable. Instead of leaving this summer drained and overworked, I feel more prepared for school than ever. This is because of the amount of value this internship provided. For instance, each Monday, everyone allots two hours for ‘lunch & learn.’ This is a time when the entire office gathers around a conference table to eat lunch (that is provided from a stocked kitchen) together in community, catch up, hear a book report given by a staff member, and have a teaching from Dr. Elmore. Each week, I walked away from our conference room with a full head and a warm heart. Can you imagine a place where the CEO of a company spends at minimum two hours each week with the interns? I couldn’t either until this summer.
In conclusion, I would encourage any college student to search for an internship. This experience has grown me professionally, personally, and spiritually. I have gotten a glimpse of what it looks like to transition from backpack to briefcase, and because of that, I feel more prepared for life after graduation. Also, I encourage each student to be selective. Do your research, apply for as many internships as you can, and during interviews, ask questions. I did, and I am grateful.
Know anyone who might enjoy a Spring 2015 Internship at Growing Leaders? It begins this upcoming January and ends in May. The deadline to apply is October 1. Have them fill out the simple form on our site: www.GrowingLeaders.com/internships