Staff Blogger: Josh Hilgenberg, Journalism/Creative Writer Intern

2015-06-03 10.12.57Lakeside isn’t just a place to grow personally, it’s a place to grow professionally, too.

This fall and winter, I’ve had the great opportunity to work as a virtual intern for Lakeside writing blogs, social media posts and more. Being an English – Writing major at Heidelberg University, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

After I finished my summer internship with the Lakeside Leadership Academy, it only made sense to accept the virtual position and keep doing the job I already loved. My supervisor, Jessica Kidd, made sure that I would be able to do the work I wanted and was able to do before we even started. I appreciated it so much and knew it was part of the Lakeside way of life to think about others.

The internship and work I do is molded around my schedule, so my schoolwork is never affected by Lakeside. Not only am I learning from a classroom setting, but now I’m learning from a business perspective as well.

Taking part in the internship helps me refine writing skills that I normally would never use. It takes me to places outside of talking about books and researching diverse topics – it rounds out my college experience perfectly, and with both of them together, I feel confident about my future.

Not only am I developing my writing skills, but I’m beginning to put a real portfolio of my work together that supplements the work I’m doing in the classroom.

Over the course of the fall semester, I’ve been compiling pieces of writing that showcase my skills in a real world business setting and show all the skills my professors at Heidelberg helped me refine over the year and a half I’ve spent there.

What I’ve learned, and will continue to learn from interning at Lakeside, compliments everything I’ve done in my education so far. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had professionally and personally.

How I Work at Home

Last summer, I completed the Lakeside Leadership Academy internship in the Advancement & Communications Department. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about Lakeside, other than the short few hours I spent singing there with my choir, the Cardinal Chorale. I never thought about it as anything more than a work opportunity until I got there and soaked up the experience, the environment and the people.

Working as an intern was one of the best choices I made that summer. In all my other work-related experiences, there was a sort of lifelessness to it – a monotony that sucked away any meaningful work I thought I was doing. At Lakeside though, I had the amazing opportunity of directly seeing the impact I was making.

When I interviewed someone, I saw their real emotions, and I came up with a story that tried to describe them. When I wrote an article, I saw it in the Lakesider newspaper or The Front Porch blog. When I sent out and invitation or made a call, I oftentimes met that person. Tasks like these were just part of the internship, but they’re all examples of the huge variety of topics I learned about.

I’m familiar with record keeping software now – something I never thought I would need until I arrived here – and something that future employers will be looking for. I was shocked at the lessons I learned in every little activity throughout my time.

There isn’t a better place for me to learn, either. Lakeside is one of the most relaxing places for me to be. No matter how stressful a day was there was always the scapegoat sitting quietly there waiting for me to remember that I was working at a Chautauqua.

I’d take a walk or rollerblade around the grounds, sit on the porch and read a book, or just sit on the dock and watch the waves; nothing seemed to bother me anymore.

Even if that didn’t work, there were always the lectures to keep my mind off of stresses, or just give me a new perspective on something. I was always able to connect with speakers and never failed to walk away having felt enlightened or like I owed them a debt for how innovative their ideas were. They always gave me chills, no matter how prepared I thought I was.

To top it all off were the Lakesiders. The people I worked for and with were like a second family to me by the end of the summer. Leaving felt less like saying goodbye to co-workers and more like saying ‘I can’t wait to see you again’ to friends.

It was intoxicating walking into an office every day and knowing I could hear a joke one second, write an article the next and eat an ice cream cone the moment after that. Who doesn’t want to eat ice cream at work?

I know that sounds like it was mostly goofing around, but that’s only a little true. My supervisors always made sure that I was getting the experience I wanted and that I was gaining the skills I needed. They worked for me just as much as I did for them, and I can’t thank them enough for that.

So if I had to pick a reason as to why I jump at the opportunity to come back for another summer in 2016, it would come to these: meaningful work, an engaging and calming learning environment and the best teachers.

At some point along the way, Lakeside stopped being work and started being home. Coming home just makes sense.