Secret Life of a High School Intern

One Last Time

Hi everyone, my name is Lydia Williams and I am the Plano Chamber’s 2019 Special Projects Intern through the Plano Mayors Summer Intern Program. Thank you to Cigna for sponsoring my internship. I am a rising junior at Plano East Senior High School, and this is my Intern Blog! If you are new to my blogs feel free to CLICK HERE to read my first entry and CLICK HERE to read my second entry!

An Intern Flashback

Four months ago, in my Spanish 3 honors class with my friend Rachel and my phone buzzed. I picked it up, held it to my face, and read the words “Congratulations! The Plano Chamber of Commerce would like to offer you a summer internship through the 2019 Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program!” Paralyzed in shock, Rachel and I forwarded the email to my parents and texted everyone the good news. I was one of the 119 interns chosen out of 350 applicants and of the two people chosen from McMillen High School. I couldn’t believe it.

The Intern’s Experience

I’ve had many wonderful experiences here at Plano Chamber. At Business Interchange I was inspired by entrepreneurs and small business owners. I learned to alphabetize and chronicle numerous lists and papers, which improved my organizational skills before schools starts. Furthermore, I attended numerous events like Plano First and Chairman’s Council Breakfast where I mingled with executives from Boeing and Toyota North America.

While all of this was amazing, my favorite part of the internship was learning about advocacy. I knew that chambers of commerce bring businesses together and educate them on how they can improve. However, I hadn’t known that a chamber is also meant to advocate for all their businesses to legislative officials. This practice has been a common thread through the entirety of this internship. From listening to Representative Jeff Leach during a Plano Pulse recording to hearing Trisha Windham discuss how the 86th legislative session can affect diversity and inclusion in the workforce. As a self-proclaimed government connoisseur, I absolutely loved every second of it.

The Intern Gives Thanks

This is where I give my Academy Award speech. First off, I want to thank Jennifer for understanding my time sheets. I appreciate Cassie for talking politics with me and Christine for her dancer perspective. Secondly I’d like to thank Katie for reminding me to eat lunch and Kelle for fangirling over Yale with me. As well as Julie, who laughs at my jokes that aren’t funny and Ryan for his “funny” jokes. I appreciate Kathy for teaching me how to use ChamberMaster and Judy for greeting me with a smile every morning.

Most importantly, I want to thank the entire staff for not yelling at me when I thought I broke something, and ignoring the Hamilton Soundtrack blaring from my headphones. Thank you for supporting me through this summer. I will miss you all and I plan to come help at upcoming events, as long as I don’t have drill team or Senate. I think the faint music means my time is up, so finally, I’d like to thank Cigna for underwriting my internship and the Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program.

Lydia’s Lucrative Lessons for Interns

  1. Well for starters, don’t get tears on your keyboard while thanking your coworkers.
  2. Be confident in yourself, because it is never as bad as you think.
  3. Learning how to network will open doors for you.
  4. Playing flow free on your phone while waiting on a project is fun.
  5. Ladies, if you can’t drive in heels, drive in Birkenstocks.
  6. Keep up with your notes, it gets annoying when you ask the same question.
  7. Make sure you get event details ahead of time.
  8. EAT LUNCH! EAT LUNCH! EAT LUNCH!
  9. Do whatever you must to keep your energy up.
  10. The farther you go, the harder it gets. DON’T GIVE UP!

Secret Life of A High School Intern

Welcome Back

Hello everyone, my name is Lydia Williams. I am the Plano Chamber’s 2019 Special Projects Intern through the Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program. Thank you to Cigna for sponsoring my internship. I am a rising junior at Plano East Senior High School, and this is my Intern Blog! If you are new to my blogs feel free to CLICK HERE and read my first entry!

The Bad Driver Eats Hot Dogs

Over these past two weeks my experiences with the Chamber have become more and more alluring. For starters, I attended my first ribbon cutting at Riverbend Sandler Pools. Naturally, I insisted on driving myself because that is what every newly licensed driver would do. This happened to be the day that the light at Plano Pkwy and 15th Street was out, which gave Google Maps the opportunity to have me explore every residential area in the city of Plano. Five frustrating detours later, I resorted to my nonexistent knowledge of the Plano area. Although I was a few minutes late, I arrived at Riverbend Sandler Pools safely and enjoyed the ribbon cutting.

The iconic Fourth of July Business Interchange was the next day, which meant we’d be feasting on hot dogs for breakfast! All the Chamber staff had been hyping this day since I arrived, and I never understood why. Having this experience has made me confident that eating hot dogs with members of Plano Chamber is best for staff morale. These unusual episodes have only further prepared me for whatever pleasant things the Plano Chamber has planned for me.

The Intern Goes Ivy

Giving the opening statement in the Mock Trial

Now onto some less weird, non-Chamber related experiences. A week later, I boarded a plane to New Haven, Connecticut, The home of Yale University, to attend the National Student Leadership Conference. I studied the program’s Law & Advocacy course and argued for the defense as lead attorney in a mock trial tournament. If you ask anyone in attendance, they’ll explain that our first night consisted of running across campus in suits while it rained. I am certain they did not intend to force the nation’s future attorneys into such dangerous conditions. Nonetheless, this was the ultimate bonding experience.

Apart from running in the rain, my suite-mates and I set a record of 36 hours of sleep in 9 days. That’s 4 hours of sleep per day. Of course, this occurred due to the daunting mock trial tournament at the end of the week; in which my team placed 3rd. Putting the stressful conditions aside, I became completely enamored with the legal process. The entire experience was absolutely riveting and I loved all 180 hours that I was awake for (except the rain). Our amazing lecturer, Yale Law Professor Noah Messing said, “If you love every minute of this; you’re on the right path.” This declaration has only emboldened my appetite for a legal career. He even explained that our time here would be representative of our career as practicing attorneys. Including the immense lack of sleep.

New York City

Meet the latest visitor of Kings College!

After this marvelous peek into my professional aspirations, my dad and I explored something even more horrifying; college admissions. We boarded the Amtrak and went to New York with the anticipation that I’d be touring Kings College … I mean Columbia University (notice the Hamilton reference?) the next day. The most intimidating part of the visit were the freshmen moving into John Jay and Hamilton dorms for their orientation. Their faces wore expressions of excitement and angst and understandably so. They were preparing to live and study at an Ivy League School that produced founding fathers and matchless authors after all. In short, they had pretty big shoes to fill… no pressure. Putting my college nerves aside, touring reminded me how hard I should work in my internship for success this summer. Furthermore, this work ethic is applicable to academia and activities . It should be all at 110%.

Lydia’s Lucrative Lesson’s for Interns

My coffee addiction following me to Case Prep!
  1. Your coffee addiction will never stop following you.
  2. Your coworkers have a lot of exciting things to share,                                                     listen to what they have to say!
  3. Bring an umbrella everywhere you go – especially New Haven!
  4. Finding your passion will make your career enjoyable.
  5. Referencing Hamilton in New York annoys everyone.
  6. Accepting the fact that college is scary is the first step to the admission process.
  7. Take risks or you get nowhere!
  8. Remember, bring your lunch so you don’t spend all your money.
  9. Traveling is fun, do as much as you can.
  10. GO TO SLEEP! GO TO SLEEP! GO TO SLEEP!

Secret Life of a High School Intern

 A Little About Me

Hello everyone, my name is Lydia Williams! I am interning with the Plano Chamber of Commerce through the Plano Mayor’s Summer Intern Program. I am a rising Junior at Plano East Senior High School. At school I am a Senator on Plano East Student Senate where I advocate for youth community involvement. I am also a Junior Manager for the Plano East Golden Girls.

Outside of school, I am the Vice-President of Pearls and Ivy; a community service-based organization for the advancement of young African American women in Collin County. The organization is sponsored by the Chi Zeta Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Also, I am a dancer in the Pre-Professional Division of Dallas Black Dance Academy. I am a proud member of the National Honor Society and National Society of High School Scholars. I also participated in programs such as Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, and the National Student Leadership Conference.

                                          My First Day

                Looking back on my first day, I remember poorly parking my dad’s car and hearing him say “Repark the car! You won’t pass your driver’s test parking like that”. I hastily shifted the gear and said “Dad, you’re going to make me late!” Even though I was already thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Shortly after, I informed my Dad that he didn’t need to walk me in, and I’d be able to find Plano Chamber on my own. However, after wandering around LegacyTexas Bank for ten minutes and tripping on the stairs, his presence comforted me.

Despite my minor slip ups from the morning, lunch was rejuvenating. Partially because I realized that my coworkers for the next two months weren’t as scary as I was anticipating, but mostly due to the decadent cheese pizza I inhaled… I mean ate. In summary, the butterflies in my stomach still flutter around but as time progresses, I’ll become more comfortable in my cubical and confident in my work.

My First Two Weeks

                While shadowing different people on the staff, I got to attend a Women’s Division Luncheon and two Business Interchanges. At both I played a role in greeting members, distributing and collecting name tags and business cards, and of course eating good food such as stuffed peppers and Taco Cabana breakfast tacos (always a crowd favorite). Both networking events have exposed me to a large audience of people that are kind enough to give me sound advice about navigating high school and picking the right college or career. I’ve even been encouraged to make a personal business card and pursue the scrunchie making business I’ve been dreaming about since the eighth grade. There is something about being in a room full of business executives and entrepreneurs that has inspired me to innovate.

                Although events seem to be at the heart of Plano Chamber, there is a well oiled machine behind the scenes that is necessary to create the awesome events Plano Chamber members know and love. I have been observing staff members in retention, finance, Board of Directors, and weekly staff meetings, and although I generally am clueless as to which numerical doohickey they are referring to, their work ethic is unmatched and almost that of an athlete. They’ve given me so much to look forward to for the next couple of months and even more to aspire towards in life. I am grateful to Plano Mayors Summer Intern Program and a sponsorship and Cigna for giving me this opportunity and thrilled to see what my next two weeks at the Chamber brings me!

Lydia’s Lucrative Lessons for Interns

  1. Always bring a winter coat or blanket to the office unless you
    wish to return home with frostbite.
  2. Coffee is not just for an energy boost; it can also keep you warm.
  3. KEEP A CALENDAR! KEEP A CALENDAR! KEEP A CALENDAR!
  4. Don’t bring your phone to staff meetings … or any meetings, in fact.
  5. Write your passwords down where YOU can find them.
  6. Always check in with someone when you arrive and before you leave to stay on the same page as the team.
  7. Talk to the people you work with; they have a lot of useful advice for you.
  8. Put in the code before trying to scan something to your computer.
  9. Make sure YOU scan papers to YOUR computer.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

The Recap – A Blog By SK – Issue 3

Intro

Hey! It’s SK; this is my final blog for my eight week journey at the Plano Chamber. For my final blog I decided to change it up a little. I still gave a quick recap of each of my weeks, but I also have a little insight on where I am mentally. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for checking in!

Week 5

Week five was another busy week. On Tuesday, I shadowed Katie as she worked on her marketing projects and then after I went to the Plano Legislative Days meeting with Catherine and Jamee. On Wednesday, I went to another Woman’s Division event with Catherine. It was a nice event, but I mainly sat at the nametag booth and helped fill in for Ryan who was on vacation. On Thursday I tagged along with Jamee to a Boeing unveiling event. It was really nice. I got to talk to many city officials and also meet with some of my fellow Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program interns. Finally, Friday was another busy day as I attend a meeting with Catherine and then had Katie’s birthday lunch to attend.  Katie’s birthday was really fun; we ate Chipotle and had chocolate-covered strawberries.

Katie Gimenez with her strawberries.
Woman’s Division meeting at Gleneagles Country Club.

Week 6

Week six was a different week. Jamee and Jeff (Board Chair of the Plano Chamber), as well as the directors were leaving for Des Moines, Iowa. The Chamber was a finalist for Chamber of the Year and so Jamee and Jeff went to be interviewed for the award. The directors also went because the Chamber was being recognized for other outstanding achievements. While half the staff was leaving, a new staff member was joining the team. Kara Goodson was recently hired as the Membership Development Manager. The Chamber was expanding rapidly and to accommodate the new growth the chamber created a new position. The week overall was pretty quiet; I pretty much did a lot of my projects the whole week and went to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday with Christine and Kara.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for CMIT at Yeager Office Suites.

Week 7

Week seven was my second to last week as an intern at the Chamber. The directors and Jamee were back after winning the 2018 Chamber of the Year award in Iowa.  Jamee had brought ice cream and brownies to celebrate the award.  The week was pretty evenly split between events and desk time. I went to two ribbon cutting ceremonies with Christine, which I always love going to. I also attended a couple meetings with Jamee throughout the week. Thursday was a little interesting I went to Tom Thumb to get my Ariel some lemons because she hadn’t been feeling well. (If you read my first blog you would know that was the same thing I did for Ryan). Friday was the busiest day of my internship, however. I had attended the Chairman’s Council Meeting with Jamee at Oak Point Nature Preserve and then I went all the way to the other side of town to meet Ariel at the Toyota North America Headquarters. I really enjoyed both meetings as Jamee’s meeting was about the future of automatic travel and Ariel’s was about cultural inclusion in a work space. During both events I had the pleasure to talk to some very influential people. In Oak Point, I had the chance to talk to Mayor LaRosiliere and personally thank him for creating such a fantastic program. After the Plano Culture Inclusion Alliance meeting I also had the chance to speak with Philip Witcher of McAfee who introduced me to a great program for minorities looking for future careers in the corporate world. Overall it was a good productive week and Friday was just a great way to end a great week.

SK Kiero and Ariel O’Brien with her lemons.
Plano Cultural and Inclusion Alliance meeting at Toyota North America Headquarters.

Week 8

Week eight was my final week of the program. I wanted to finish the internship strong, so I worked hard to finish all my final projects. But there were some events I wanted to attend. On Monday, I went to Plano Mayor’s Internship Celebration Luncheon at Hilton Granite Park. The event was absolutely fantastic! I was able to meet up with some of my friends and fellow interns. The food and venue were amazing.  And best of all I won a $150 card to JC Penney, as well as a letter of recommendation from Mayor LaRosiliere! On Tuesday through Thursday, I was mainly at my desk working on my final projects. On Thursday, I attend my last ribbon cutting ceremony with Christine. It was at the Data Base building and it was really interesting. Friday was my last day at the Chamber, so to celebrate we had a pizza party. I really enjoyed the party, but I was really sad that it was my last day.

SK Kiero and Mayor LaRosiliere at PMSIP Celebration Luncheon.

Reflection

Now that my internship is officially over I can look back and say I had a great experience. I was able to learn so much about the business community and how it operates. I discovered a whole different side of Plano that I never knew existed. During my time of reflection, I also thought about where I am in my professional life. I realize that I have been blessed to have had this great opportunity and I’m at a huge advantage. I also realize that I’m in a great position right now, but I’m still not where I want to be professionally. I know I still have a long and hard journey to get where I want to be, but I’m glad to have had a great start at the Plano Chamber of Commerce. If I could give any advice to the future Plano Chamber interns it would be take advantage of every second you’re here, because you never know when a great opportunity presents itself.

Special Thanks

This internship has been one of the best experiences of my life! I would like to thank Mayor LaRosiliere for creating such a fantastic program that I had the privilege of being a part of. I give Cigna a special thank you for being so generous to sponsor my internship.  I have to thank the most important people in my life -my family and friends- for being so supportive and encouraging through the whole journey! I really could have not done it without your love and support.  I would like also to thank all the Chamber members for how welcoming they were; and for also making the Plano Chamber the number one chamber in the nation, because without them there would be no chamber!  I would also like to thank the Plano Chamber Ambassador team for making all the ribbon cutting ceremonies fun and interesting to attend! I would also like to thank the Chamber Board for allowing me to sit in on their meetings and learn the logistical side of the business community. Finally, I would like to give a huge thank you to Katie, Judy, Jennifer, Megan, Kara, Tracy, Christine, Carole, Catherine, Ryan, Ariel, and Jamee!  You guys took me under your wings and taught me a lot about the business world. You guys made me love coming to work every day because I knew there would be something new I could learn! It was my pleasure working with each one of you and I will really miss all of you. I will forever be thankful that our paths crossed because whatever success I will have in the future would be due to y’all!

Katie Gimenez, SK Kiero, Jennifer Ruhman, Kara Goodson, Ariel O’Brien, Judy Webster, Jamee Jolly, Megan Sieling, Catherine Riggle, Tracy Bartholomew, Christine Wunderlich, Ryan Minter (Going left to right)