Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Intern Insights

   About 6 months ago, I had no idea what I was going to do with my summer. As a Lynchburg (ok, ok... Rustburg) native, this place has always been home to me, but I have spent the past two summers away from home working other jobs, taking classes and trying my hardest to be an independent 20-something.  I heard about the possibility of an internship at Lynch's Landing and applied, unsure if I would get the position or if I even wanted to come back home to spend the summer for the first time in three years. I heard from Anna Bentson right away, scheduled an interview, and the rest is history.

    I have had a hand in many projects with Lynch's Landing this summer. From Friday Cheers and sitting in on committee meetings to analyzing how other U.S. Downtowns work and formulating a new business packet for our future Downtown Lynchburg neighbors, I have had hands on experiences in event coordinating that I could not have gained anywhere else. One of my most memorable experiences of this summer has, of course, been the night of the derecho.  It was one of the hottest days I can remember, and at Lynch's Landing we were doing our best to make sure we were prepared at Friday Cheers. We offered free water, reminded people to stay hydrated and wear light clothes, and took many breaks ourselves during set up.  Even with our efforts, I learned sometimes heat exhaustion is inevitable.  I also learned that sometimes as an intern, when things go awry, you have to be in charge.  In a matter of minutes, I went from snack girl to "boss lady." Thank goodness for Lynch's Landing's high quality and hard working volunteers! They did not skip a beat and sprung into action, and as a team we made sure that EMS personnel were where they were needed, vendors and other volunteers were doing alright and performing their jobs correctly, and keeping an eye on the event as a whole. They helped me keep things under control and showed me everything that needed to be done to make sure Friday Cheers continued as planned.  I already knew, but was once again shown how much our organization relies on our volunteers and how they can make or break an event. Everyone stepped up to make Friday Cheers a success despite the circumstances and helped a lowly scared intern, and the wind hadn't even hit yet.  My bosses always ask me, "Do you still want to be an event planner?" following interesting and/or challenging events, and after the infamous "Derecho Night" I am sure.

   I have met many wonderful people through this experience who I hope to continue to work with in the future.  The Lynch's Landing volunteers and partners amaze me with their dedication to Downtown Revitalization.  Tony Camm, my Friday Cheers BFF, has a contagious spirit for the "O-FOE" and everyone who meets him catches it.  Other volunteers, such as Buzz and Jenn McFaden, Ben Regan, Nelson and Carol Evans, Jeff Taylor, and many others work hard every week at Friday Cheers and are masters at their job.  Jennifer Kennedy of the Lynchburg Community Market made a lasting impression on me after one Get!Downtown meeting with her ideas and enthusiasm.  Most of the people I worked with laughed at my jokes and everyone made me feel welcome.  If I take nothing else away from this internship, I will take the new found knowledge that Lynchburg is not at all "dead" as many college-aged Lynchburg natives believe. It's actually thriving.  We have a whole museum dedicated to globes (Omniterrum), and if that's not cool, I don't know what is. There are restaurants and bars for every taste bud and events to entertain all ages and interests.  When my friends say, "Gosh, there's nothing to do around here!" I can quickly counter that argument with all the fun things I have learned at Lynch's Landing this summer.

   As I pack up and get ready to head back to James Madison University for the final time, I am filled with a mix of emotions. I am excited to see my friends and get back into my routine of work, classes, sports, and being a carefree college student.  I am also terrified of the idea that soon my college bubble will be popped and I could be just about anywhere doing any job this time next year, and the action I take during the next two semesters will determine that.  I almost cried when my mom bought me an interview blazer the other day.  I do know, that I am more prepared for a job in event coordinating now that I was before this internship, and I have full confidence in the abilities and lessons I have learned here.  I am, however, still trying to figure out how to fit "I met Brett Sharp from Star Country" on my resume, but just like most things, that will fall into place.  Thank you Anna and Stephanie for setting a great example for me, teaching me, and being patient with me this summer, and thanks Downtown Lynchburg for showing me a good time.

Until next time,
Evan and Brett Sharp at Friday Cheers!

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