Reflections on my Summer Internship with SDI Presence.

Hi! My name is Marc Ridgell. You may or may not remember me from last year. Last summer, I interned at SDI Presence as part of the Chicago Summer Business Institute (CSBI), a summer program dedicated to providing 6-week long, paid summer internships to rising junior and senior high school students. At the end of the summer, CSBI holds a graduation for all of the summer interns. At graduation 2017, I was awarded the CSBI Scholarship for being in the top 10 percent of the economics and future planning classes held at CSBI’s Friday seminars. In addition, SDI Presence extended my internship beyond the CSBI program. By keeping in contact, I was awarded to briefly come back for over Christmas break and for three weeks during June 2018.

Over the last three weeks, I was determined to bring my journalistic skills to an IT company. When I tell people that I intern for an IT company, they automatically assume I am a STEM oriented person, and that I plan to major in engineering or computer science in college. I enjoy journalism, writing about art and music and social justice topics, and learning about new cultures. I favor the humanities much more than STEM. As I was, you’d be surprised at how much the humanities play into such a STEM oriented workplace.

During my time at SDI this summer, I was able to work on a few individual projects as well as typical intern work. Between all of these projects, I was able to gain a new experience, no matter how administrative they were. One project that fell into the admin category was data entry for business cards. I had to update around 350 company contacts using LinkedIn. This project taught me how to effectively use LinkedIn. Prior, I did not use LinkedIn much, but now, I learned a lot of the ins-and-outs, just by trial and error.

Another project that I worked on was my upcoming Diversity and Inclusion blog post. I interviewed two members on the executive team, Chief Development Officer Cecelia Bolden and EVP General Counsel Linda Petty, about their experiences as black women in the corporate world. Their stories were amazing and constructing the blog post furthered my passion for journalism, research, and narratives. I also got to work on miniature projects with the Marketing Team (thank you Taleen Poladian and Lola Banjo so much for making my internship much enjoyable!).

Interning at an IT company in the Chicago loop not only gives me professional experience, but exposure to the downtown culture. Since I do carry myself more maturely and I am larger in stature than most other 16-year-olds, I got a taste of how it feels to walk around “like an adult.” From being asked by countless organizations to donate money to their cause, to always being called “sir” by Dunkin Donuts cashiers, people still probably knew that I was a youth by them observing my countless snapchats of my Starbucks refreshers and my bubble teas, and never-ending “vlogs” of Chicago buildings and the fast-paced culture on Michigan Avenue.

It feels sad to know that my time at SDI Presence is coming to an end. From working with Chief Marketing Officer Pfeiffer nearly every day, talking to SDI President Jack Hartman about future plans, and even going to lunch with my old supervisor Dan Clucas, I will miss the professionalism and intellectualism that my past two summers at SDI has offered me.

However, my journey does not end here! In July, I am studying abroad in Spain for 2 weeks. At the end of July, I am attending a week-long, leadership program at the University of Chicago. My senior year, I will be taking 4 AP courses (Biology, Calculus AB, English Literature, and US Government and Politics) and 1 college course in Physics (I, seriously, have to get started on my summer homework!). In the fall, I also start applying to college! I am also in the process of finishing up standardized testing, co-founding my first nonprofit, and continuing to write for my local newspaper.

I am excited yet scared for the future holds me. That’s what makes the future so intriguing and yearning me to keep improving myself. Thank you, SDI!

Marc Ridgell, signing off.