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Life of an Intern - The First of First and 3rd

Last week was the first official Thursdays on First and 3rd and my first official experience working behind the scenes of this enormous event.  Although the festival doesn’t start until 11am, our day began at 6:30am, an hour I haven’t had to pay attention to for a long time… 

As I was walking up to the Peace Plaza to meet the other Rochester Downtown Alliance staff members at the information kiosk, I can remember three key emotions overwhelming me; anxiety, terror and excitement.  Anxiety because I had never done most of the tasks I had been assigned, and I didn’t want to mess up royally on the first go around.  Terror because I knew I would be without the aid and advice of the RDA staff for a majority of the morning load-in process.  Lastly, excitement because despite the fear and nerves, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be.

Growing up, I was never the girl who had her wedding day all planned out by age 10, nor was I ever on the prom committee, or even fundraising for student counsel, but somehow I often found myself organizing and coordinating nonetheless.  Although I always enjoyed bringing people together through events and activities, I never thought of it as a career option.  College, thankfully, changed that.  After a year of attempting to convince myself that clinical lab science was my calling, I finally dropped that illusion once intro to chemistry kicked my butt… for the second time.  I quickly switched to Communications and never looked back.¶

Eventually I found my way to Melissa Schmid via Jon Eckhoff, and that’s where my time with RDA begins.  I volunteered a few weeks with Thursdays before returning to college for my senior year, and continued to help out when I could until Melissa informed me of an intern position offered by RDA.  I applied and the rest is history.  Now Thursdays on First and 3rd is in full swing, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Last week’s event taught me a lot about both Thursdays on First and 3rd specifically, and managing an event in general.  First, there is no possible way to prepare for everything that could go wrong, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.  Secondly, things will go wrong, the key is making sure you react correctly as to not make things worse.  Thirdly, when you are dealing with people, you have to be ready for anything and always try and respond with respect and courteousness, even if that’s not what you are receiving. Lastly, every event is only what you make of it.  Even though we were up and out from 6:30am to after 10pm, the RDA staff members made sure to keep attitudes and energy as high as possible until the last vendor was packed up and gone.  Needless to say, I was thankful for my bed when I got home, but the importance of managing exhaustion and temperaments during an event was apparent and exemplified by the RDA staff.

There were many aspects of last week’s event that I am proud of, and pleased with, as well as many ways I know I can continue to develop.  Lucky for me, there are still 11 more opportunities to mess up and hopefully improve!  Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  There is a lesson in every mistake, and I’m not afraid to learn a lot of lessons.

With enthusiasm,

Raquel Grad