My time at the Chamber of Commerce was one of the most surprising aspects of this semester, given that my work initially seemed to directly conflict with my History & Philosophy majors. I was terrified that my skills from the classroom would leave me stranded in terms of what was expected of me while working here, namely statistical analysis, database entry, and financial research. However, I quickly learned that regardless of what I had learned while at Whitman, it was how I learned that got me to exceed at the internship enough for them to offer another semester. My time management and ability to find answers myself empowered me to tackle all the weekly projects that were assigned to me during this internship. One of the biggest challenges, for instance, was creating a spreadsheet analyzing 5 different years of survey results. I was daunted by the challenge, but spent time at home researching how to integrate excel data mining tools within the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was to be used during the Chamber’s board of directors’ annual retreat, and the CEO thanked me for my achievement. I was constantly given new tasks which I would subsequently learn how to do, and truly Whitman’s rigorous academics trained me into being such an efficient worker.
The chamber also offered me many instances of understanding the workings of the local economy. I helped set up for their annual Christmas banquet and got a sense of how many businesses rely on the chamber for unity within the community. I was only tasked with moving the wine from the office to the Marcus Whitman hotel, but I could tell how big the party was going to be. I had also hoped to experience a ribbon cutting ceremony, but there were none during my time at the Chamber. My boss Steve was also an incredible mentor in helping me get a jump start in all the projects I was going to embark on, sending me webinars and articles to digest before diving into a project. I got such a better understanding of how to apply my academic knowledge in a practical work environment, which I can easily say was the best part of the experience, and something I had hoped to achieve.