During my time thus far at Southwest Michigan First I have been lucky enough to be exposed to exceptional examples of leadership within the company. I would have a hard time selecting just one person who has stood out to me as my sole mentor, or one that I have leaned on the most simply because everyone I work with has been so forthcoming with their resources and wisdom. Each and every one of them has gone out of their way to make sure that I am getting what I need out of this internship.
Southwest Michigan First is an Economic Development Firm in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They have played a large role in turning around the economy in that region after the economic downturn which devastated Michigan. While I find economic development incredibly fascinating and rewarding, I know that it is also probably not the career for me. I chose this internship solely because I knew that the people who worked for this organization would be invaluable to me moving forward in whatever endeavors I choose to purse. Each and every one of them has incredible ties in the community and are willing to use those connections to help those who work there, interns included, accomplish their goals.
In the past month, four members of company’s leadership team have reached out to me to set a time where we could sit down and discuss my interests and future plans. At each of those meetings they have extended a resource or opportunity to me to make those future plans more attainable. Each one of them is genuinely interested in seeing that I accomplish all that I set out to do.
Our CEO, Ron Kitchens, says to our entire team during morning meetings, “We want you to have your dream job.” He emphasizes that sometimes it’s with our organization and sometimes its not. When it’s not they do everything they can to make sure you have what you need to make your dream a reality. The company’s commitment to that, is why choosing one single person as a standout mentor is so difficult, and why I am so grateful for the opportunity to work there.