“…to be a strategic short term investment to the long term work of the organizations we partner with.”
So reads the mission statement of the Oral Roberts University Missions & Outreach Department, an organization that that has been a large part of my college experience and has impacted the way I live forever.
The summer before a college student’s senior year is otherwise known as “internship summer.” It’s the last chance to get professional experience before graduation comes in a few short, scary months. Pressure is on in the search for the perfect internship. I had two things in mind during my hunt: the above mission statement, and an unforgettable quote from one of my favorite professors, “20s are for learning, 30s are for earning.” In other words, my utopia internship was somewhere that I would have opportunity to contribute and also be contributed to. I wanted to actually make a substantial contribution other than coffee runs and making copies, but I also wanted opportunity to learn and grow as a young professional.
During my search I got connected with Lake Chamber President Christa Kozy as a reference to possible opportunities in my hometown. Naturally, a little bit about what she does at the chamber was weaved in our conversation. Christa was telling me about the various businesses she recommended I inquire about internships and all the while I was thinking, ‘Why don’t I just work with you?’ When she told me the summer would be busy with event planning, blogging, and staying on top of social media platforms, I finally brought to life my original inner thought. I saw that my skill sets matched the need, allowing me to potentially make a substantial contribution while also learning from such a poised yet personable professional.
When all things were made official, I came home and began my internship at the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce. What I set out to find in the perfect internship has been fulfilled in more ways than I imagined. I could make a list of the connections I’ve made or job references gained. I could tell you the number of blog posts I wrote or fliers that I posted around town. I could tell you how this summer has prepared me for postgraduate life and how this was the ultimate internship for a Communications major. But it’s all so temporary. The greatest impact of this experience has been the people of Lake township. I have had opportunities to speak words of encouragement to people of all sorts and have been immensely touched by the integrous work I observed in this community. In every interaction, from mechanics to doctors, from bankers to baristas, I was impacted by the truth that Lake township is made of a different caliber of people. You are hard-working, respectable, and determined. You are full of kindness, faith, and life.
My skills may have been sharpened, and I may have made life a little easier in the chamber office for the summer. But I finish this internship with much more than a resume-builder. I finish with a certain sense of responsibility to carry on the business and life principles I acquired through learning from the finest of people, all of you. That transcends job descriptions and resumes and bleeds into every sphere of influence I may ever have. In whatever job, city, or community I find myself in, I will serve better thanks to the people of the greatest little town there ever was, Lake.