Where Opportunity Meets Experience: My Intern Story
Hi, my name is Taylor Dempsey, Consumers Energy’s Corporate Giving and Education intern. Under the direction of
Carolyn Bloodworth, Director of Corporate Giving at Consumers Energy, I started interning for the company in 2011 when I was 16 and a sophomore in high school. One of the largest projects I’ve been blessed to be a part of is the Intern Challenge. I was first introduced to the event in 2013 and have been participating and helping plan the event ever since.
Consumer Energy’s Intern Challenge: The Challenge to Serve Others
How has Consumers Energy incorporated hands-on community service experience for their summer internship program?
Consumers Energy has incorporated hands-on community service experience for their summer interns by introducing the
Intern Challenge. The Intern Challenge calls on Consumers Energy interns to perform a volunteer project in their communities. There are roughly 15-24 teams every year. The Intern Challenge is first introduced at the annual Intern Luncheon mid-June. Intern teams will then organize a volunteer project with an organization of their choice in July. These projects are performed on interns’ own time outside of work.
In early August, intern teams will conclude their projects by presenting it to the intern class, as well as a panel of judges. Although this challenge is not mandatory, we get great participation –with numbers growing every year!
What is the impact of connecting interns with the community?
There’s definitely a positive impact that interns get from volunteering in their community. Some interns may have limited volunteer experience and they grow to love it. This experience opens the door to future opportunities and makes a big difference in the community. Volunteer experience helps build a resume.
How are interns grouped during the Intern Challenge?
Interns are grouped by work location.
What criteria will interns be judged?
The intern teams will be judged on the following:
- Reasons for choosing the organization
- Overall project/campaign
What projects have you been a part of?
I have been a part of two different Intern Challenge teams.
In 2013, I was a part of team P.O.W.E.R. which stood for People Offering Welcoming Energetic Relief. We volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, Jackson YMCA and the Jackson County Medical Care Facility (JCMCF). We started off our volunteer efforts at Habitat for Humanity by deconstructing a home with severe water damage. The most exciting part was going on the roof and taking off shingles! Later that week our team went to JCMCF to help residents play bingo and created games and activities for kids at the YMCA. Some games we came up with for the YMCA included a water balloon toss and a bucket relay. Overall, we were proud of our volunteering efforts and won 1st place at the final summer presentations.
In 2014, I was a part of team R.E.A.C.H. which stood for Research, Educate, Assist, Connect and Hope. We volunteered at the Jackson YMCA and the Jackson County Medical Care Facility (JCMCF). I enjoyed working with both of these organizations previously and convinced my new intern team to volunteer for them again. At the Jackson YMCA, we taught a group of about 50 kids about electricity and safety and asked each kid to decorate an uplifting card before we left for our next volunteer project. At JCMCF, some team members played bingo while others delivered the YMCA’s decorated cards to residents in their rooms. This was one of my favorite memories because some residents were so thrilled that they hung up their cards before we could even leave the room. It was such a rewarding feeling knowing how much we made their day. That summer, our team won 4th place.
What challenges did you face with the Intern Challenge and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges was trying to find an organization to volunteer for in one month. Some organizations had a long approval process that potentially took months. Only having July to complete our projects, an approval process wasn’t going to fit in our time frame. This called for brainstorming and creativity to find a great organization to support while meeting the deadline.
How will your Intern Challenge experience help your career development?
The Intern Challenge has developed skills for my career development such as time management and the ability to work with others through effective communication.
What is your advice for interns approaching their first Intern Challenge?
My advice for interns going into their first year of the Intern Challenge would be to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t worry about winning! If your project is something you’re passionate about, that’s all that matters. Another piece of advice would be plan early. It’s never good to feel rushed. Time management is extremely important.