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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Graduating, Growing and Giving

This is posted as part of our Summer Intern Blog Series. Be sure to come back each week as interns from around the country share their summer experiences with us!

By: Lauren Benda, @LaurenBenda

The sunset as the power returned to Fifth Third Ballpark. Photo Courtesy of Lauren Benda

The West Michigan Whitecaps may have just completed the worst eight game home stand in the history of minor league baseball. Throughout those eight games we had two rain delays, a power outage (yes, the whole stadium was without power for 65 minutes) and to top it off three of our games went into extra innings. This home stand also included Field-of-Dreams, Star Wars Night (our busiest night of the year) and Dog Day! However, at the end of this I’ve realized so many things as each game brings me closer and closer to the end of my amazing internship.

I’ve graduated college, and somehow it still doesn’t feel real. All of my friends have moved on to real jobs, and we only see each other when we make the time and put in the effort. We use to be able to walk down the hall of our dorms and see each other or go to classes and see everyone. I miss meeting up with my friends to get food, and I miss how acceptable a 2p.m. nap was in between classes.

I keep thinking about how August will feel, and how for the first time in 16 years I will not be going back to school. I will be working, and will I feel sad or will it finally come full circle? The past 16 years have been about learning, growing and becoming the person you are to be able to function properly and make a difference in the real world.

That is where my internship has made the biggest impact in my life. I graduated college and I was surrounded by everybody important to me, and my co-workers helped me celebrate that entire time. It was surreal and perfect.

I’ve grown; more than I have ever thought possible. In the past month alone I have lost friends, my boyfriend and I of four years broke up and I went on my first date in four and a half years. I also applied to five jobs, and two of them are in Colorado. I also have grown professionally. My resume has developed, I know how to talk in front of upper management and I know how to adapt to any situation a work place may put in front of me. I’m never done learning, but it sure does feel like I am a new person these last few months.

Growing personally and professionally these past few months during my internship has not been easy, but every person I work with has made it easy. The first memory I have of my internship (besides my car accident that made me late) is someone opening the door for me saying, “If you ever need anything the door to my cubicle is open.” and that means more than anything. That has never been more true, and I have never felt more comfortable in any environment.

Kids playing at Ted Rasberry Field. Photo Courtesy of Lauren Benda 

Give until you’re physically exhausted. I’ve always been one to over exert myself in the giving department, but when you are surrounded with people who have the same work ethic and mentality; you start doing it without even knowing it. That’s the amazing thing. I give 110% at work, after work and to my friends and family. I lay down at night and feel exhausted but so content. I never thought that I would find anybody who could ever do the same thing as me, but we all do it day in and day out.

People ask me, “Why do you enjoy your job so much? You work 100 hours on the regular.” and the only answer is, “I love the people I work with, and the reaction from kids make it worth it.” Helping to be a part of something so much bigger is the most satisfying thing. This week at the end of the worst home stand ever all I wanted to do was go home shower, sit on my couch for an hour and then go out with my friends for a few drinks. However, I had to go to a player appearance. It’s all for the kids (FTK) so I put on my big girl pants and a smile and proceeded on with my day.

When we got to Ted Rasberry field everything changed. This was the first time my boss has gotten to see kids play on the field the Whitecaps Community Foundation worked so hard to renovate, and it was perfect to see someone’s hard work and dedication come to life. Watching the kids meet the players and play catch with them was the highlight of my day, I feel like I could do it all day. It reminded me of the reasons I started to play softball, and why I so badly want to work in this industry. Baseball changes lives, and it changes mine day after day.

That’s the whole point, and after working 100 hours in a week it was the best refresher I needed.

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