Reflections on My SDI Internship: SDI Chicago Summer Business Institute Intern Marc Ridgell
As part of its commitment to our community, SDI is proud to partner with the Chicago Summer Business Institute (CSBI). The Chicago Summer Business Institute was founded in 1991 to provide paid summer internships for Chicago high school students and to introduce them to the professional services sector. The Institute’s goal is to give its participants an incentive to continue their education while preparing them for the business world.
Hi! My name is Marc Ridgell. Currently, I will be a junior at Brother Rice High School in the fall. Back in early spring, my mentor from my scholarship program LINK Unlimited emailed me a link to the Chicago Summer Business Institute application. A few months ago, I wanted to utilize my summer productively and explore more of Chicago so I thought this was the perfect fit. After receiving recommendations, writing and editing my essays, and filling out the lengthy application, I only realized later that it would pay off. A few weeks later, I received an email stating that I had an interview, and my mouth dropped to the floor; I felt so excited. When I went to the interview, coincidentally, I had my soon-to-be supervisors Dan Clucas and Jack Hartman as my interviewers. I felt a connection through that interview, probably because I knew Dan was around my age so I related to him a lot on a generational level. On the other hand, Jack, he attended Brother Rice, so the interview with both of them felt more like a conversation, which was very pleasant.
A few more weeks had passed and this unforgettable moment occurred: I remember on May 11, 2017, at 2 am, a notification popped up on my phone. Yes, I know that a student my age should not be up at 2 am on a school night, but coincidentally–again–I had a toothache which kept me up. When I slid the notification to the right to open the email, I saw the email from CSBI congratulating me on getting into the program. At this moment, I stared at the screen, frozen, because I finally had an exciting yet productive activity to do this summer, being an intern.
Up until orientation the Friday before my first Monday at SDI, I did not know where I would intern at. When I walked into Harold Washington College for orientation, I picked up my name tag and saw SDI Presence at the bottom of the tag, I felt so happy because I would experience something new, especially because SDI is an IT company. Even though I am interested in journalism, marketing, social justice issues/African-American studies, SDI does not limit my interests or make me feel like I should overall stick to the IT realm. SDI really lets me explore my interests and lets me figure out how I can apply that to the company—whether it be through social media or volunteer work.
Furthermore, these interests probably contrast heavily with SDI, but the SDI community has helped me discern those interests, even more, this summer. My main supervisor Dan and my other supervisor Dawn both worked in marketing so I felt I would learn a lot about the field. The best aspects of working at SDI are that I receive hands-on experience, and I receive support. I received lots of hands-on experience by helping plan SDI’s A Toast to Community event–which focused providing opportunities to minority owned businesses and student internships. This event overwhelmed me a bit, and when we were at 1871 (the place where the event was held), the SDI staff saw that I nearly had tears building up in my eyes because of all of the hard work that goes into marketing, especially being a 15-year-old intern who is still learning about the field. This crucial moment is what made me love SDI even more than the free coffee (that I always spit out), the nice workers, and the family-type environment–is that they told me to take a break, and they calmed me down and cheered me up so I could feel excited about the event. It helped, it really did. That is why that night turned around all successful and very memorable.
Now, here is the most important thing that I have experienced while working at SDI: their constant support. Now, let me be a bit more specific, I am a full-time student aside from being an intern, and they clearly understood that. Being a rising junior and having to read 4 books over the summer for school, trying to practice to achieve a high score on the ACT, and still fitting in free time to enjoy summer as a teenager while being a full-time intern, they motivated me. Now that I look back, I laugh so hard thinking about every time I tried to sneak a little ACT studying in while doing a project and Dan would always catch me, yet he never lost hope in my work ethic as an intern. SDI has also inspired me so to start my own community service project this year at my school.
All in all, the summer before my junior year spent with SDI has been so memorable, and I plan to keep pushing to reach my goals. This would not have been without the constant support of SDI and them being so adamant about providing effective internships to minority-student interns, like me.
The entire SDI Team thanks Marc for his hard work and positive attitude throughout the summer, and wishes Marc all the best in his junior year and beyond!