DUNMORE, Pa. — Penn State Scranton fourth-year students Taylor Burdick and Kristie Miller spent part of their spring semester interning at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, where they personally experienced the educational benefits of doing an internship, while also learning about economic development in northeast Pennsylvania and the opportunities that exist here for both companies and potential employees and entrepreneurs.
Before taking the internship, Miller wasn’t very familiar with what the Chamber does. She still has so much to learn, she said, and the internship is a unique experience where she gets to see what happens behind the scenes and how the Chamber’s efforts help the region.
“Working primarily with the entrepreneurial side, I get to hear so many amazing business ideas that individuals in our region have and are working on growing with our help,” she said. “It’s a very cool position to be in. I think I got very lucky to have this opportunity.”
Having the opportunity to do her internship at a regional economic development entity has already connected Burdick with various successful people throughout northeast Pennsylvania.
Being exposed to multiple businesses and learning about the local industries in our area has given me insight on how important small businesses are, and what they do to promote their events and achievements. The professional opportunities in our region stem from small businesses to corporate companies that have been around for over 50 years.
—Taylor Burdick , PSSN English major/Scranton Chamber communications intern
Miller also highlighted the vast number of opportunities in the region.
“A lot of college students my age tend to flee the area as soon as they graduate and move on to bigger cities like New York or Philly because they think this area lacks what they are looking for, but it’s the total opposite,” Miller said. “I feel lucky to live in an area with so much opportunity right in front of me.”
Interning with the Chamber provided insight into those opportunities, said Burdick.
"Being exposed to multiple businesses and learning about the local industries in our area has given me insight on how important small businesses are, and what they do to promote their events and achievements," Burdick said. "The professional opportunities in our region stem from small businesses to corporate companies that have been around for over 50 years."
While both students are intern at the Chamber, located in downtown Scranton, Burdick and Miller carry out different roles and responsibilities there for different departments.
Putting her English degree courses to work in a real-world setting
As a communications intern, Burdick is responsible for helping craft the Chamber’s weekly e-Blasts, monthly magazine and press releases, as well as researching and applying best practices for the Chamber’s social media channels.
“Crafting the emails can be time-consuming. Having Taylor work on most of the emails by herself allows the marketing and communications director and myself, the communications manager, to focus on other projects,” said Stephanie Juarez-Ventura, Burdick’s supervisor and the communications manager for The Chamber. “Taylor has been an asset to the Chamber team by showing up to work eager to learn and ready to get things done.”
Burdick’s favorite internship experience so far has been being able to attend and celebrate a ribbon cutting for a small business that was a new member of the Chamber.
Working as an entrepreneurial development intern
Miller works with the Scranton Chamber’s IGNITE program, an entrepreneurial development program that seeks to grow businesses and create jobs by fostering entrepreneurs in our region.
In her role, Miller is responsible for collecting data about program clients, processing improvements, event planning and developing a marketing campaign for IGNITE.
“Kristie is driven, hard-working, and creative,” said Brianna Florovito, IGNITE program manager and Miller’s supervisor. “She has brought a wonderful perspective, many great ideas, and even better execution of those ideas to our program. I know IGNITE is going to improve because of Kristie and the effort she’s putting in to revamp our marketing strategy, events and program model.”
Out of all of Miller’s responsibilities, she said that her favorite experience so far has been meeting new people.
“There is so much diversity and so many new people to meet and talk to every day, whether it be IGNITE clients, fellow coworkers, or members of the community,” Miller said. “I’m never bored because there’s always someone to talk to and connect with. Hearing the IGNITE clients’ stories and business ideas is also always an exciting part of my day, and I look forward to getting to know each one of them more as I continue working with the company.”
Florovito hopes that Miller gains valuable, practical experience from the projects she completes and grows her talents as a professional in the workplace.
Putting classroom knowledge to use in the workplace
Both Burdick and Miller have both had the opportunity to use the skills they’ve learned in the classroom in their internship roles on a daily basis.
Whether it’s critical thinking, writing or communications skills, each day Miller is faced with new opportunities to use the knowledge and skills she has learned in her courses.
"Specifically, I frequently utilize my marketing knowledge from the classroom in my role as an intern as I brainstorm new ideas for creative marketing initiatives," Miller said. "Even simple skills I’ve learned in class, like how to properly write an email, have helped me several times during my internship experience.”
For Burdick, her English classes have helped her to effectively edit press releases, while her corporate communication courses have taught her the importance of having a social media presence for both internal and external communication within an organization.
"Even simple skills I’ve learned in class, like how to properly write an email, have helped me several times during my internship experience.”
—Kristie Miller , PSSN management and marketing major/Scranton Chamber entrepreneurial development intern
The value of internships
While some degree programs require students to have an internship before graduating, Burdick’s major did not. She did it solely for the experience.
“It is so important to bring yourself into a different environment with people you do not know or are not comfortable with. If you push yourself and open yourself to learning new things that college classes cannot teach you, it will help you excel in the real world,” Burdick said.
Like Burdick, Miller emphasizes the importance of internships.
“There are so many great internship opportunities in our area that students should definitely take advantage of. It’s important because they provide a valuable opportunity to learn, develop your skills, and grow your network before you enter the workforce and get handed a ton of responsibility. Internships are a great way to get a taste for your chosen industry in a professional work environment, and possibly even land a great job upon graduating,” Miller said.
“I have nothing but amazing things to say about my internship so far,” Burdick said. “Everyone has been so nice and so understanding. I am so thankful to have this opportunity and create connections that I know will help me with my life after I graduate in May.”
The Scranton Chamber of Commerce offers unique opportunities for interns to be involved in all aspects of our programs and events. It is the largest business network in northeastern Pennsylvania, with more than 1,500 member companies representing a variety of businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and other professional entities.
“We provide hands-on experience that puts them a step ahead of their peers,” Juarez-Ventura said. “Interns are encouraged to attend our networking events, which include business card exchanges, Women’s Network luncheons and more. Interns are also included in the preparations for the Chamber’s signature events, including the Chamber Annual Dinner, the Chamber Gala and EMPOWER NEPA Women’s Leadership Conference, which they attend to ensure its success by stepping in where needed.”
“The Chamber is a treasure trove of opportunity for our community,” Folorvito said. “Whether you’re a small business looking for start-up assistance, a student looking for an internship, or maybe a community member looking for networking opportunities, we have something for you!”
Students interested in interning at the Chamber may send their resumes to [email protected], and they should also work with their program’s internship coordinator or Penn State Scranton’s Career Services Coordinator Jon Tobin, [email protected].