As a small-town girl from Pennsylvania and rising junior at Cornell University, interning in the meetings department at ICSC in New York couldn’t have been a more exciting opportunity. Like many, working in the City every day and joining the fast pace of the crowd has been a goal since I was old enough to understand why NYC is one of the most important city’s in the world. I still am surprised at how, in the course of a 90 minute commute, I can go from a suburban section of Staten Island, where I am living for the summer, to a midtown Manhattan skyscraper. (As an aside, our office building is routinely used for movie and television filming. It is also the broadcast location of Howard Stern’s radio show, so it is something of a congregating point for—how shall we say—exotic artists and performers.)
At 19, I feel lucky to have this opportunity where my daily work includes working on contracts, making endless phone calls, and plowing through emails concerned with various ICSC meetings, which serve as one of the mainstays of ICSC’s work on behalf of its members. However, my job didn’t end there. I was recently assigned some tasks related to ICSC’s first National Next Generation Conference, in Chicago (July 11-12), and through this assignment, my work transition from being strictly “at the office” to being “on the ground.” Next Gen is ICSC’s networking, educational, and mentoring program for young people new to the industry.
Having experience in the banquet’s department at the Statler hotel at Cornell in Ithaca, NY, I was familiar with the documents used by planners to get all of the details straight, from the budget to the food to the meeting timeline. So, I did have some idea of what I was getting myself into. But being able to be on the end that doesn’t wear white gloves and serve the hors d’oeuvres was a great change of pace. Sitting in on meetings with my on-site mentor, Ester Vivona and the team, and working to create a successful event was rewarding which allowed me to see the fruits of my work back in New York.
The team from ICSC was supportive, in Chicago, welcoming me to behind the scenes functions and introducing me to industry colleagues. Meeting practitioners in the field and hearing bits and pieces about what they are doing in the shopping center and real estate industries was informative and absolutely helpful for an intern like me who is still figuring out a direction for the future. In retrospect, I think the Chicago meeting, which took me out of my comfort zone, has helped me to feel more self-assured as I engage with industry people, as well as staffers in our New York office.
I know when I look back on this summer experience, being part of the first National Next Generation conference will be a highlight. My internship at ICSC has been time well-spent, offering numerous occasions to learn and stretch professionally and socially, and I appreciate those who have made this possible.