An 18-Year-Old Without a Declared Major
This article originally appeared as a “Community Perspective” article in The Sheridan Press, May 24, 2014.
I had the honor of interning through the PaCE program at Sheridan High School for the last two semesters. I began in the fourth-grade class at Highland Park Elementary.
Before this experience I was 100 percent sure that I wanted to be a fourth-grade teacher; I’ve always been of the opinion that the most important job anyone could have is positively influencing the life of a child. I truly believe that our future lies in the education of our youth.
However, I discovered that my personality doesn’t quite fit the job of actually teaching those youth. So, bereft of my lifelong career plan, I was left with the sense of hopelessness that teens often experience when people ask them what their major is going to be in college. My mom suggested, “You should explore opportunities in business.” It was with this in mind that I became an intern for the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.
My first meeting was a little intimidating; after all, I knew next to nothing about business, and I was meeting with Dixie Johnson, the leader of an organization that was the epitome of business in Sheridan County. The friendly manner of Dixie and the staff immediately reassured me into thinking, “Wow, I think this might actually work out.” And “work out” it has.
For the past four months, I learned about the businesses that are a part of the Chamber — there are more than 600 members — and experienced firsthand how the Chamber fulfills its mission statement by being, “the proactive voice of local business, working for the promotion, protection and prosperity of our members and community.”
Over my course at the Chamber, I have attended a monthly luncheon, sent out numerous relocation/information packages to people inquiring about Sheridan, sat in on conference calls, and my personal favorite, interviewed community members about the reality of owning a small business. I thank these talented people for setting aside time to meet with me: Anne Gunn from Sheridan Programmers Guild, Robby Smith from Sheridan Stationery, Kurt Smith from Sheridan Commercial Company, and Shelley Kinnison from Born in a Barn/Real Estate Rehab/Wink’s of Wyoming.
The piece of advice I heard most often from these local business owners was that I should find something I’m passionate about, do all the research necessary about every aspect of that passion, and make sure that it fulfills a need. They also told me that mistakes have to be made in order to be learned from — a good metaphor for life, isn’t it?
Overall, my experience as an intern at the Chamber of Commerce was very helpful in opening my eyes to new possibilities for my future. So, thank you, Meredith Sopko, for kindly allowing me to watch as you performed your duties as the marketing/communications person. Thanks, Karen Myers, for talking to me about “normal” things like sports and accounting. Thanks, Janet Shepherd, for including me in the numerous information tasks you perform. Last but not least, thank you, Dixie Johnson, for saying, “Sure! We’d love to have an intern!” and for making me feel capable of accomplishing anything.
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