Staff Blogger: Rena Arter, 2015 Advancement & Communications Intern

2015-06-03 10.11.47-2An internship – it’s something almost every college student must complete as a requirement to graduate.

This can make the process of finding, and even completing, one grueling. After all, it’s just another academic requirement, right?

Coming into this internship, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I’m not saying that in a negative way. I have learned more from my experience as an intern in the Lakeside Leadership Academy (LLA) both professionally and personally than I could have ever imagined I would.

When most people think of internships, the first thing that usually comes to mind is that you’ll be making endless coffee and lunch runs and doing nothing but operating the copier and answering phone calls all day. While those thoughts may not be far off from the typical corporate internship, they’re not even close to what the LLA offers.

The first few days on the job, my supervisor told me that the only coffee and lunch runs I’d be making would be for myself. She also mentioned that although I would be operating the copier daily, she would be too. And truthfully enough, she wasn’t lying. This is one aspect in which the LLA is unique from other internships.

Although the LLA was my first internship experience, I’ve heard some grueling stories about others’ experiences.

But, the supervisors and managers at Lakeside are the type of people that would never make the interns do what they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves. Can you believe that one day after a major storm this summer, I spotted Kevin Sibbring, the President/CEO of Lakeside, on the dock with a broom sweeping debris back into the water?

That’s only one of the many instances I’ve witnessed my superiors doing the jobs that the “interns” would be normally asked to do. If that doesn’t say something about the integrity of Lakeside, I don’t know what does.

That leads me to my next point. The staff at Lakeside care about you as an individual; you’re not just considered an intern that’s at the bottom of the totem pole. This is hard to find in a corporate internship, and sets the LLA apart from other experiences.

Being an intern means you’re still learning. It’s guaranteed that mistakes will be made at some point, and every supervisor at Lakeside understands that. They’re not only your supervisors, but your mentors and friends. They take the time to help you succeed and complete tasks to the best of your ability.

Some tasks are not easy, some are a little less fun than others, but the LLA helps you step out of your comfort zone and gain confidence in your work and yourself.

Now, enough of the boring chatter about the work. Aside from the working, the LLA program offers a significant amount of time for fun and memories to be made on the lake.

Each and every member of the LLA will have a different experience at Lakeside, and that’s what makes it such a beautiful thing.

I’ll always think back of my time walking into Coffee & Cream for ice cream every day with my co-workers. My weeknights were spent playing beach volleyball with other interns and even community members that joined in our games.

We had our own “Chopped” cooking competition for dinner once and even had a “Just Dance” marathon night. I also enjoyed seeing some amazing performances in Hoover Auditorium, eating the warm and fresh donuts from The Patio, watching countless sunsets that were almost too beautiful to handle and the weekends were spent on the beach with my new LLA friends.

I could talk forever about how amazing Lakeside and their internship program is, but unfortunately, I can’t write a novel for a blog post.

I know my experiences this past summer at Lakeside are ones that I won’t find anywhere else. I’ve grown not only professionally, but individually. I’ve made lifelong friends from all over the U.S. and even had the opportunity to continue my work at Lakeside throughout the off-season.

Being a part of the LLA is an opportunity that I would urge anybody to take, even if you’re hesitant to step out of your comfort zone as I was at first. You won’t regret it!