One of my favorite experiences during this internship, and one that I have been working toward since my time at the office for work study, is the New Leadership Academy Midyear Retreat. This retreat was held in Ann Arbor, at the League, and it was made of up of the fellows of the National Forum as well as speakers and facilitators. Most of my work during the first half of the internship was in preparation for this event, as there are so many different parts of it. My boss handled the bigger tasks, like booking rooms for our different sessions, making sure flights were booked, etc. I took care of the smaller tasks, like making name tags for all participants, ensuring that the participants were arriving on schedule, editing documents as necessary, etc. Preparing for this conference took a hefty amount of work, there was seldom a day where I did not have to take on some task that pertained to the conference. I reached a point where the conference became exhausting and I could not wait to get it over with.
Seeing the conference play out, however, really made all the work worth it. Our fellows and speakers come from all over the country and I had never met any of them, but I had interacted with their information frequently as I was preparing for the event. Being able to finally meet the people I had prepared for so much felt like meeting a celebrity. All I had known or seen of these people was either on paper or my computer screen, they almost seemed digitized and unreal to me. Being able to see them right in front of me and to talk to them helped me realize that all our hard work at the office was finally paying off. The conference went on with no problems, we had prepared for everything and found ourselves doing very little work during the event. I had expected the conference to be extremely exhausting (especially since some days I had to work from 7 am to 8 pm), but I found it to be more relaxing because most of my day consisted of being an observer and listening to the speakers as they were presenting to the fellows.
Although preparing for the conference too a lot of effort, and could be quite frustrating at times, I am glad that I was able to see the effort that it takes to put on an event and ensure that it is flawless. I used to think that such an event would take maybe a month of work, but we started preparing for this conference November of 2016 and it was held in June of 2017. We encountered many problems along the way and if we had not started preparations so early, I’m sure many of those problems would not have been solved and the whole event would have been a disaster.