Written by Jessica Wilson, 2019 Venango Chamber/Be Here Intern
What does it mean to Be Here? What kind of opportunities are there for a young professional in Venango County? Before this summer, I would have said there are jobs for engineers in our area but that’s it. No one with a communications degree and no one interested in public relations and marketing could ever get a good job in our area. Then I started my internship at the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce. I never thought there were jobs for people with a communications degree in the area, but the Chamber is almost entirely staffed by women in that field, and they are doing work that I care about and enjoy. Imagine that.
The first week of any internship is exciting and scary at the same time, but within the first two days I found the Chamber office to be incredibly welcoming. They have never treated me like someone who is just here for the summer and therefore less valuable. This empowered me to find my place as a part of the staff quickly and begin learning and working without many of the initial uncomfortable feelings of doubt and fear.
During the summer, I worked with many businesses that are thriving, which has given me a new perspective on the opportunities in the area. Hearing how these successful people talk about the area has also been very informative, because they are not negative about Venango County. This type of positive narrative seems to be a two edged sword. It enables businesses and individuals to be more encouraging and it also seems to lead to a more productive business and person. Working at the Chamber and with these people has helped me to also become more positive and empowering.
Getting involved is yet another way this internship has altered the way I see professional life in the area. Over the summer, I had the privilege of going to several Chamber mixers and FLEX events, as well as a Be Here Quarterly. These events showed me how professionals, young and old, build connections and friendships with people in the area. I never imagined there could be such an encouraging, fun atmosphere among professionals in our area, but making an effort and going to these events helps to further the growth and industry among professionals. This has also influenced the way I see Venango County. Now I can see the possibilities for a career without having to leave my home.
I honestly do not know where I will be when I graduate, but the experiences I have had and the people I have met show me that my home in Venango County does not have to be only a childhood memory. Regardless of what happens over the next two years, I know that Venango County is somewhere I can always come back to. Venango County is somewhere I can be successful in my career and in life. I do not have to stray far from home in order to find success and value in my profession, and I credit this new attitude about my future largely to the people I have met and the things I have done during this summer internship at the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jessica Wilson is a Junior at Geneva College and studies Communication with concentrations in Public Relations and Integrated Media and a minor in Marketing.