From Sidelines to Corporate: a Different Kind of Crowd
Television cameras. Thousands of screaming fans. A rambunctious student section. As a college cheerleader, gamedays give me thousands of reasons to have pre-performance jitters. Nonetheless, I am completely at home in front of an audience. This past Tuesday however, I entertained a very different crowd. Throughout my internship at Bravo Group, I have conducted research on STEM initiatives and funding at the regional, state, and federal level. Earlier this week, I presented an analysis of my findings to the Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council, otherwise known as PCIC. Despite my experience and usual comfort in front of large groups, I was nervous.
On the day of my presentation I was in a world different from that of collegiate sports. The acronyms I normally use were replaced by those pertinent to my presentation. ESPN fell by the wayside and STEM–science, technology, education, and math–took the spotlight. I traded the Atlantic Coastal Conference for the American Chemical Council; an ACC of a very different nature. My anxiety heightened when I saw the building in which I would be presenting. The meeting was to be held on the seventeenth floor of the First Niagara Building, a skyscraper along the Monongahela River. Although I am not not normally fearful of heights, in that moment, seventeen floors seemed like a long way up.
I was one of the last people to speak at PCIC’s Pittsburgh meeting and was comforted by the fact that I understood the content of the presentations before mine. The conversations covered a variety of complicated topics, including public policy and hydraulic fracturing. Bravo has given me many opportunities to research these subjects and, although an intern and not an expert, I now consider myself fairly knowledgeable in these areas. Also contributing to my redeemed confidence was the reassurance and presence of my co-workers. It was certainly comforting to see their faces amongst the representatives of PCIC member companies.
Finally, guided by the knowledge I have gained from my three months of research, I delivered my presentation. I provided information on STEM and elaborated on its application to workforce development. And, as I grew more confident, I all but abandoned my notes. After my last slide, I opened the floor to discussion and observed as executives at high-stake chemical companies engaged with my presentation. Despite my nerves, I was undoubtedly proud of myself.
And with this opportunity comes experience. With one major project under my belt, I am that much more prepared for the next. While I still may feel more comfortable on the sidelines of Heinz Field than I do in corporate conference rooms, I am looking forward to the next major presentation I have the chance to give. What was once anxiety is now excitement. However, my nerves have succumbed to gratitude. I am humbled by this experience and would like to thank Bravo Group for pushing me out of my comfort zone; for providing me this opportunity for personal growth; but most importantly, for being my biggest cheerleader.