When I first met Steve Matheny, he had me for coffee at Village Coffee. I didn't really know
what to expect, but when I read his quiet, thoughtful demeanor, I was put at ease. It's unusual, in my
past experiences, to have a personal conversation with my supervisor before getting to work. He asked
me about the usual laundry list of questions: what I was studying, where I was from, etc. But our
onversation went beyond that and he asked me more specific questions about what I wanted to do,
when I had first developed my passions and what I wanted to learn more about. Not only did he gave
me plenty of space to share my story with him, but he reciprocated by telling his journey from being a
liberal arts grad to finding a career in human resources and eventually becoming the Executive Director
of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The conversation gave me a better idea of what the Chamber actually is. It's not a secret
meeting place where high-minded men in suits and ties met to stroke their beards and played the stock
market. I began to understand the structure and real purpose of the organization. Consisting of
hundreds of members, the Chamber is a support network for small businesses to grow and make
connections with each other. The Chamber also planned events like the Farmers Market and the Art
Walks, things that I have enjoyed in my time in Granville as a Denison student. Suddenly my first ideas of
where I would be working dissolved. I learned that the Chamber exists partially as a tourist agency but
mostly as a way to bring business- and people- together.
The bulk of my work has been in materializing a vision that Steve had for the Farmers Market
which meant creating placards that would highlight the people and the places represented in each
participating vendor. They would also serve a functional purpose of identifying whether a vendor
accepted credit card payments, an issue that Farmers Market customers brought up from previous
years. I used Google Slides to create a template for the placard, which we mulled over for a while, then
created fifty signs unique to each vendor. The process of which breaks down to over hundreds of tiny
edits. The placards will be on display at each booth in this years Farmers Market.
The rest of my work has been in helping to run the monthly luncheons that are for the members
of the Chamber, held in a different location each month. In March, it was held at RevLocal and in April, it
was held at the Granville Inn. One day, as we were packing up for the luncheon, Steve was going over
the name-tags that get passed out at the beginning of every meeting. "
The devil is in the details,"
he said to
some effect. People feel appreciated when an event is organized properly and when they are
recognized. This often occurs in the small details. It was a privilege to attend these luncheons and to
meet so many inspiring driven people gathered together in one room. Despite my lowly status as an
intern, I was greeted with genuine smiles and enthusiastic conversation. It was fascinating to hear
stories of men and women starting businesses in their home and trace their trajectory to a fully
At the March lunch, I remember Susie of Susie's Sunshine Sweets was the chosen
person to speak for three minutes about her bakery. She spoke candidly about surviving through her
first year as a small business. I felt a shift in the room. I could sense the empathy emanating from every
person in the room, as I suspect that this is something that everyone related to. It struck me that these
businesses consisted of friendly people complete with families that go through their own struggles and
with goals of providing a product or service that they can be proud of.
Some of my favorite memories at
the Chamber were at the luncheon and the happy communal atmosphere of people talking, laughing,
eating and sharing with each other.
As I reach the end of this internship, I find that saying farewell to the Chamber will be more
difficult than I thought it would be. At the heart of it all, Steve orchestrates the Chamber will precision,
humor and wisdom and I have learned a lot from being under his wing.
While the threat of the real
world looms near and my liberal arts education comes to an end, I think about the kind of skills I need to
survive in this changing world. Having the ability to communicate and connect with people who have
different interests and goals is an important skill to have in a pluralistic economy in order to have a
broad-based network of support. I learned this first hand through the people I met. Executing tasks
using technology, such as on Excel, PowerPoint, email, etc. is a good skill to have no matter what
industry you work in, because we depend on computers so much to deliver and share information.
Finally, I think the most important skill of all that I have learned is one that Steve models in his
day-to-day life. He models that no matter what you are working on, you must always ask questions and
think critically before making decisions. A healthy attitude of skepticism can save you from problems
that might lurk in the future. No matter what profession I go in, I will carry these skills with me.
Thank you to Steve Matheny, Michelle Newman Brady, Jerod Long and Jodi Melfi of the
Chamber, Melanie Murphy, Liz Morrison and Richard Berman of the Denison Center for Career
Exploration and the many members of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, who dedicate their