By Jacob Hane, Summer 2019.
I did not think shattering outdated narratives would be a part of my intern job description; little did I know it would become one of the coolest perks I’ve gotten since I started working at 1Berkshire.
Prior to starting my work, I had not heard of 1Berkshire. However, I am forever connected to the region. I’ve lived in Williamstown since I was six. In high school, I participated in many different programs and activities that spanned the county, commonwealth, and country.
I currently attend Hamilton College in upstate New York where I study Government and the Classics. I’ve been enraptured by the history, language, and literature of antiquity since I first began studying Latin when I was 12. I am equally passionate about Government, and at Hamilton, I am able to marry my two interests by studying both simultaneously.
As I enter my sophomore year, I have been trying to figure out what path I want to follow in life. Since I was little, I have wanted to serve the U.S. Government in some capacity — whether as a lawyer, politician, official, etc. However, I have struggled to find which path truly piques my interest. Thus, as I looked towards the future and my career, I decided to apply for a summer internship at 1Berkshire (thanks to the Berkshire Business Interns program) to learn more about economic development and how it intertwines with government.
Working at 1Berkshire has been an enlightening experience. I have been able explore the background of the Berkshires’ economic development, and helped prime new programs and operations throughout the region. While much of my daily work has comprised data aggregation and social media management, the team has also encouraged me to delve into such research reports as the Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 and Berkshire Initiative for Growth. At Hamilton, our motto is “study what you love;” at 1Berkshire, I have been able to fully realize this by studying the actual policy and programming as it happens around me. It is like studying in a living classroom; every facet of the county’s economic, political, and cultural landscape teaches me something new.
One of my key takeaways from 1Berkshire has been the sheer insight into how the Berkshires have changed. Too often there is a narrative that the Berkshires are dying or dead — this narrative is based on nothing more than outdated data and stereotyping. Joining 1Berkshire while the region embarks on a ten-year strategic imperative plan for economic development has given me a unique opportunity to help dispel common misconceptions about the regional economy. A few of my friends, for instance, will talk about how difficult living in the Berkshires is: how few jobs there are, how nothing cool ever happens here, etc. With the new insight I have gained into the actual infrastructure and internal affairs of the county, I have been able to effectively dispel their negativity and reshape their worry into hope. Likewise, when I met a Williams alum at a backyard BBQ, he asked what it was like to grow up in an economically-starved and struggling community. I enjoyed the opportunity to inform him that while the Berkshires struggled to develop in the past decades (i.e. when he had attended Williams), the region was now on a path to economic prosperity. After I had given him some of the metrics and numbers, and explained the data in further depth, he was ecstatic to learn about all of the new, exciting developments.
But my success at 1Berkshire, including my ability to retain knowledge, develop my skills, and strengthen my career network, has been a result of the team’s investment in me and the atmosphere of the office. Kevin Pink and Benjamin Lamb from the Development Team have made a routine of checking in on me. Likewise, working in the “bullpen” (an office shared by members of multiple 1Berkshire departments) allows for cooperation and cross-team communication on projects. Under President/CEO Jonathan Butler’s leadership, we’ve had some incredible workplace opportunities that have helped us get to know the country better this summer. I, for one, have enjoyed Friday half-days, our new dog policy, and some awesome deals to attend shows around the Berkshires. I saw performances at Tanglewood for the first time ever!
The other major benefit has been the chance to meet so many experts in the county. One of my colleagues suggested that I go to Chocolate Springs, a place I had never visited. Now every time I go to Lenox, I make sure to stop for some sort of dessert (even before dinner time). Likewise, the entire staff has introduced me to many downtown Pittsfield restaurants and cafes, which now top my list of favorite places to eat. Being right in the heart of downtown has made for some enjoyable lunch breaks.
Overall, being able to work in such a vibrant and dedicated workplace community has shaped my vision for future careers. I now know what to look for as I continue my journey into adulthood, and find myself equipped with a variety of new skills and abilities thanks to this internship.
If you are interested in learning more about an internship at 1Berkshire, contact the economic development team. Apply now to work here this fall! I would say you have big shoes to fill, but mine are only a size 10.
Top photo: 1Berkshire staff visit Catamount Ski Resort, July 2019.
Bottom photo: 1Berkshire’s Kevin Pink and Ben Lamb with intern Jacob Hane (center) attend the Berkshire Business Interns award ceremony, August 2019. Photo: Greg Nesbit.