Note: The following was written by Emily Kiziah, intern at the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce.

In the six months that I have been with the chamber, I can easily say that I have developed into a better professional and citizen. Through my time serving as an intern, I have been engaged in transformative experiences that have pushed me out of my comfort zone into areas that I would have never navigated before. I have a greater love for the community that I call home and a desire to be more engaged.

Most important, this experience has made a significant contribution to my personal story.

I believe that everyone has a story to tell. From where you have been to where you are now, each experience that you are involved with develops you into the person you are today. Below are some of the experiences that I have been involved with and lessons that I have learned along the way.

Through the Leadership Catawba program, I have learned how various organizations, such as Catawba County, the city of Hickory and the chamber, work and collaborate to provide programs and opportunities for the community.

Additionally, through the October “Telling Our Story” sessions, I have learned about the various businesses and organizations in our county. This is an example of how I have been pushed out of my comfort zone by simply visiting a different city or town within Catawba County to shop.

An additional experience that I am proud to have had a small hand in helping plan for is the Women’s Leadership Conference that was hosted in November. Five hundred women gathered for a day of leadership development to hear from keynote and workshop presenters, each sharing their personal development and inspirations.

Before the Women’s Leadership Conference was the Women’s Leadership Mixer and More, which highlighted a panel of business owners sharing their encouraging entrepreneurial stories.

Other events that have allowed me to grow professionally and engage with the community include the 30th annual Golf Classic hosted at Lake Hickory Country Club, TedxHickory and ribbon-cutting celebrations. An additional event is First Friday Morning Brews, which focus on netgiving and asking others, “What can I do for you?”

I close with a sincere thank you to each mentor whom I worked alongside every day at the chamber.

Your belief in me has allowed me to gain valuable experiences and lessons that I will carry with me into my career. Through this opportunity that you have given me to work alongside you, my story has developed both professionally and personally.

Additionally, I would like to extend a thank you to the community for embracing me and welcoming me throughout my internship.

Through each interaction, I was able to learn about you, the people and storytellers, who fill this community.

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