Monday, November 4, 2013

Chamber internship has taught me to appreciate the truly important

Weeks ago, I told a coworker my plan to work myself into the ground while in college so I can enjoy life when I’m older. She said that this is what everyone says.

I am about to graduate into the “real world.” Like other people my age, I am afraid I am not prepared enough to achieve my idea of future success; but isn’t that what everyone, at any age, struggles to believe?

I am trying to do all the right things. I am a senior at Oakland University completing a dual major in communications and musical theater with a full-ride scholarship; an honors college member; and vice-president of a student organization. I am blessed with a well-paying job, and now I am half-way to completing an internship at the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. Every opportunity I am given to grow, I take.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber has changed me, but in a way I did not expect at all: It made me slow down and look around at what is truly important. The folks at the Chamber bring a sense of friendship and celebration to the community. They host gala events, parades, ribbon-cuttings and road rallies. They take time to appreciate important things in life. Yes, it is beneficial to keep up with the times and always be ahead of the game. The Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber works hard to do this; but it worries me that elsewhere, people caught up in this fast-paced line of work forget the reason they do things.

I recently sat in a presentation by the Head of World Class Manufacturing at Chrysler, Jeff Kalinowski. He said that most people are unhappy because they don’t know what they’re searching for. To this, I thought there was an easy fix: always seek out what is important to you. Create your own idea of success. If you like being a stay-at-home mother, stay one. If you want to head a giant corporation, by all means don’t let me stop you.

Checking off the important things is what ultimately makes us happy, no matter what that means – landing your dream job or finishing a whole TV series on Netflix. The reason any of us keep living is to do more; achieve more. When we say this, though, we always focus on the incomprehensible future. Let this be a lesson to people of all ages and occupations: focus on what is important to you today. Do better with that, and sometime in the near or distant future – no worries –you, yourself, will become more.

Do what the Chamber does. Appreciate the small things: like being able to dress up once in a while, bonding with a coworker over lunch and finding in them a new friend, or savoring that morning cup of coffee. Who you are today is enough. If you ever don’t believe this, stop what you are doing. Decide what it is that’s truly important to you and carry on appreciating life.

Colleen Miner is a senior at Oakland University and is actively seeking employment. She welcomes feedback at

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