What’s it like to intern at Research Park?

LAS student Shelby Job discovered her skills and interests at Research Park

LAS student Shelby Job poses for a photo at a Research Park event.Shelby Job is a fourth-year student in the College of LAS studying English and Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability with a focus on the eco-humanities, environmental writing, and geospatial technologies. She also works part-time as an Event Coordination Intern at EnterpriseWorks, a startup incubator in the University’s Research Park. Having been with the company for just under a year, Shelby has helped plan and execute over 200 events ranging from workshops for entrepreneurial education to day-long conferences. 

When I applied for an events coordination internship with EnterpriseWorks in Research Park, I had almost no idea what I was getting myself into. Within the first week on the job, I was put in charge of planning Research Park’s Annual Table Tennis Tournament, which attracts nearly one-hundred competitors. Fast forward a few weeks and I was constructing a balloon drop for an exclusive Research Park Celebration, the guest list for which included Chancellor Jones. Since then, I have had the opportunity to execute grand openings for companies establishing offices in Research Park, like Motorola and Proctor & Gamble, alongside over 200 other events.

Although my pre-college life included some meager experience in event planning, I had never planned on making a career out of it. When I started my internship, I was dead-set on acing the LSAT and becoming an environmental lawyer. However, the longer I spent studying law, the less I liked it and the more I coordinated events, the more I saw myself making it my new passion. To put it simply, Research Park is where I discovered my skills and interests. 

First and foremost, and at the risk of sounding entirely sentimental, my experience in Research Park has been life-changing; you will learn a great deal about your skillsets, passions, and professional ambitions by submerging yourself in a place as dynamic and diverse as Research Park. Through being apart of the ‘startup culture’ in EnterpriseWorks I have made countless connections with individuals pursuing very different passions for my own which has challenged and therefore broadened my view of life and work. The full-time staff at EnterpriseWorks has taught me important lessons on how to optimize my professional strengths and startup employees have shown me just what is possible with (a lot of) hard work. Simply interacting and sharing a space with so many goal-driven individuals has been inspiring as I tackle my internship, coursework, and planning for my future career.

Moreover, my internship is fulfilling. When an event is scheduled at Research Park, it is my responsibility to ensure all aspects of the event — from catering to promotion — are being taken care of either by me or my colleagues. It is quite incredible that the full-time staff at EnterpriseWorks extends this much trust to their interns, as our events play a large role in representing Research Park to the local and global community as a fore-runner in innovation and research. So, at the end of a successful event I feel extremely proud of myself and my team because I know that we are actively contributing to the success and reputation of both the University and its Research Park. Moving forward with my career, it’s satisfying to know that I will be able to utilize the experience I have gained from this internship because I have, since the beginning, felt a sense of ownership over my work.

To anyone wondering what is possible as an LAS student at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, I am here to tell you that anything is possible. Discover your strengths, utilize the amazing resources at Illinois, and fulfilling work will be waiting for you right around the corner. Whether or not you decide to apply for an internship in Research Park, I urge you to explore the numerous ways in which you can involve yourself with the events and programming that take place there. Whether you are interested in networking with community members, educating yourself on a specific technology such as blockchain, or gaining insight on what it is like to be an entrepreneur, I can guarantee that one of our events will impact your professional life.


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Shelby Job