I’d like to preface this post by saying; I chose to write this piece on my own. No one asked me to write it and everything I say is my own personal opinion and experience.

September 12th will be my final day as the tourism and marketing intern for Seattle Southside Visitor Services (and also my 21st birthday!). I’m writing this piece because I’d like to shed light on the opportunity I was given, the experiences I’ve had, and the wonderful people I’ve worked alongside. Working with Seattle Southside has been an amazing opportunity and I’ve learned more than I ever thought was possible. I am a recent CWU grad, and while I enjoyed my classroom studies, there’s something so satisfying about applying my coursework to a real life work environment. Seattle Southside was a great setting for me to absorb more than a classroom could ever teach me.

 When I first started, I was unsure what to expect. I knew I would be working for a visitor center, but where would I fit, what would I do? Kristina, the visitor center manager, encouraged me to seek special projects that I felt passionate about and really enjoyed doing. With the help of Ashley, the marketing & communications manager, I was able to shape my internship to be focused around social media pieces and blogging; both things I really enjoy!

It was soon after starting my social media work, Meagan, our business development manager, asked for some help regarding our group sales. I happily obliged and Meagan, very patiently, taught me how to use our cutsomer relationship management system and answered every question I had, relevant or not. As soon as I knew it, I was able to handle all the sports teams inquiring about lodging in the Seattle Southside area.

Along with my special projects, a very large portion of my internship was visitor interactions. I worked primarily at our SeaTac office, and usually 1-2 days a week at our Westfield Southcenter location. Working at both locations really allowed me to get a sense of our visitor demographics, as well as taught me all about our area! See, I’m originally from the east side of the state, I moved to the Seattle area specifically for this internship. I had no idea where I was, yet I was supposed to give visitors recommendations on where to go and what to do! It was only with the help of my fellow visitor center staff that I was able to quickly learn how to help our guests and ultimately be successful in my work.

I’ve learned from this internship that working in the tourism industry is not my life’s calling. Upon realizing this, Kristina empowered me to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. She, as well as the other staff, helped me by networking on my behalf, and putting me in contact with people they thought I would benefit from. If it weren’t for Kristina putting my name out there, I wouldn’t be starting my new job at Microsoft on Monday.  I couldn’t be more grateful for all of their help! Also, my resume looks fantastic thanks to all their wordsmith skills!

Interning is an opportunity unlike the average work experience. I encourage every college student to intern. Not only that, intern somewhere that will teach you what the classroom couldn’t. Intern with people that push you to be better. Intern at Seattle Southside.