My internship at the Boone County Economic Development Corporation has taught me more about my future in 4 months than 13 years of school has. A professional workplace is a pretty daunting setting for any 17-year-old kid, looking for some knowledge of the real world. When I arrived on my first day, I was so nervous, I felt like I was starting game 7 of the World Series. In actuality, I was beginning a journey full of life lessons and helpful tips for my future. In my opinion schools around the country should be mandated to offer a program similar to Work Based Learning. The skills taught on the job are more valuable than most skills I have learned in school. Meeting with business owners and discussing future plans or ideas requires no knowledge of how I will be finding the slope of x or any knowledge of the book 1984. These things are good at forcing us to think, but they will only be used in the careers of very few people. I say this because I have learned first-hand through my internship what professional work is really like.
Throughout my internship here at the EDC I have really focused on one major project… Small Business Saturday (SBS). SBS is a day very similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but focuses solely on Small locally owned businesses. Throughout this process of setting up SBS, I talked with business owners, community members, and chamber leaders; having a completely different conversation with each entity. The only skill from this whole project that I learned in school, was talking in front of people, thank you speech class. Students who aren’t able to take Work Based Learning don’t get the real world experience and will be far behind those students who took this class.
These past couple of months with Work Based Learning have really helped me grip control of some of the areas I struggled with. It forced me to expand out of my comfort zone and talk to complete strangers. I never imagined in my life that I would have to go and talk to business owners asking them about Small Business Saturday and if they wanted some free “swag.” Honestly, I had no idea SBS existed before coming here. I had to think of ways to work out a plan for SBS and the things that would help the community thrive, this was all new to me. I’m used to thinking to what my teacher or my AP exam wants me to think, not what I would want for the community or myself. I really enjoyed my time at the EDC so much because of this. I wasn’t being coached to succeed on a test but, I was being coached on ways to succeed at life… what it takes to complete large tasks at hand, and how they can impact the world you live in. The EDC was such a positive experience me because of all the different things I have learned from communication to project planning. I feel good knowing that these skills are skills I will use in my future profession.
My experiences here have helped me grow exponentially. I have met wonderful people, collaborated with coworkers, and led a whole project. I am extremely blessed to have gotten this opportunity and I hope that everyone gets to experience something like I have. The knowledge and experience I have gained is incomparable to the things I have learned in school. No matter the situation I feel this experience has educated me well enough to know how to handle an array of situations in my future.