As a college senior approaching my last semester, I was itching to find an internship to learn, grow and prepare for “the big girl world.” In early January, I was fortunate enough to discover an opportunity at Staunton Innovation Hub. With no knowledge about the business, I contacted Community Manager Amy Lessley and Director Hannah Cooper expressing
interest. Both women were kind enough to hop on a Zoom call to learn more about me and provide me with information regarding SIH.
The first question the women asked me was “So what do you know about Staunton Innovation Hub?” I panicked. I was nervous I offended them when I responded “Uhm, isn’t it a basically a place where people can work?” In theory, I was right. In actuality, I was a little off. It is FAR more than that. Staunton Innovation Hub helps small businesses and entrepreneurs’ flourish. They offer everything from networking opportunities and professional development events to plenty of spaces for conferences, meetings and social events. After providing me with more insight, Amy and Hannah explicitly asked me what I want to do and what I want to learn.
“Wow, these women are cool and the place sounds awesome; They actually care about me and what I want to do.... why didn't I find this place earlier.” I thought to myself. I was so excited, I drove to Staunton a week later to tour the facility.
I first walked into the warehouse to see high ceilings, tables with color coordinated chairs, a kitchen with snacks and coffee and Amy, greeting me with a smile. I poured myself a cup of coffee and followed Amy throughout the facility. Each step of the tour, I became more intrigued. This building, rustic and historic on the outside, is a complex, character-filled, modern home for innovation on the inside. It has an abundance of workspaces, personalized private offices, printers and copiers, phone booths, beautiful light fixtures and décor and even a meditation room!
While I was impressed with the interior design and tangible amenities of the facility, I was more impressed with the community within SIH. Amy used the word community at least 50 times on our tour. I understand why. She addressed everyone we passed by name and every person introduced themselves to me. “People come here for the amenities, but they stay for the people and the community.” Amy said. That is what stuck with me then and continues to stick with me today.
Since day 1 as an intern, Amy and Hannah have had my best interest in mind. After my tour, they wrote a new job description for me specifically. I told them I was a public relations major interested in writing and event planning. My job includes, helping plan events, monitoring social media and crafting newsletters, blogs and press releases. Exactly what I like!
“I want you to know that this internship is for YOU. We want you to leave here feeling accomplished. We want you to learn and grow. We are here for any help you need.” Amy said.
I believe this quote and my personal experience as an intern represent the entire culture and community here at Staunton Innovation Hub. The internal staff here works hard to ensure this is not just a place to work, but a community to be a part of. Every Thursday, they host coffee talk, where people get together to talk about their weeks. Every day, the members use a messaging application, to share their accomplishments, ideas and thoughts. Members from different businesses get together weekly to share their individual goals with each other and then hold each other accountable to make it happen. Staunton Innovation Hub is made up of innovative, encouraging, creative, helpful, friendly people who care about each other’s success and are passionate about working here. I am fortunate to have found this opportunity and am happy to be a part of Staunton Innovation Hub.