Let me begin by introducing myself: my name is Maarten and I’m from the Netherlands. I live in the city of Groningen where I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in February. In September, I will move to Amsterdam to pursue my master’s degree in Business Administration: Digital Business. I wanted to fill the time in between with an amazing and educational experience; I wanted to see the theories I learned in practice.
I wanted to do an out-of-the-ordinary internship, and as I’ve always been a fan of the United States I really wanted to do an internship here. Because I have family living in Chattanooga, and had fond memories of the city from when I came here for holidays 10 years ago, it was my first pick. As Chambers of Commerce are the center of business and thus one of the best places to see business theories in practice, I consider myself lucky to have gotten the chance to spend the past two months as an intern at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. I hoped to see many different aspects of business life to prepare me for the rest of my career.
Among other things, I got to help with the application for the 2017 Chamber of the Year Award. This gave me wonderful insight into what the Chamber does, and I really am astounded as to how much the Chamber achieves for a ‘small city’ like Chattanooga. I will paraphrase a saying I heard during my time here: ‘good places don’t happen by accident; we tend to get the kind of communities we deserve’. I think Chattanooga is a good place, that the people of Chattanooga deserve it and the Chamber is a huge player in this by bringing out the best in others. It was a very good learning experience for me to be so immersed in a city like this and see all of its different aspects.
In addition to a look into what’s grinding the gears of Chattanooga, I also got to know the people who are oiling them. I quickly learned that the Chamber is an epicenter of interesting and helpful people. It was exciting to work together with them because they are people who really commit to giving back to the community and make sure Chattanooga continues to thrive. Before coming here, I had heard about this thing called ‘southern hospitality’, but I thought that was just a saying. Boy oh boy, was I wrong! Everyone is so genuinely nice, friendly and helpful here. I felt incredibly welcome from day one and that feeling hasn’t changed a bit. I think the world can learn a lot from the people of Chattanooga, and I wish to bring that friendliness back to the Netherlands.
Although my two months have gone by rapidly, it was an amazing adventure for me. Because of the all the things the Chamber does, I got to interact with many incredible people, projects and companies. This was very inspiring for me, because all of them had their own fascinating stories. I am thankful and thrilled to have been part of the Chamber as well as the city of Chattanooga.