This past summer, the WBDC had a fabulous student intern, Carolina Diaz. Carolina was a great addition to the WBDC staff team and has taken the time to share her experiences below. Keep reading to learn more!
The WBDC and Me: Making a Difference
Five months ago, I began my internship with the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) where I had the opportunity to learn about women-owned businesses, something I didn’t know much about as a Fashion Marketing and Management student. My goal, coming into this internship, was to gain as much knowledge and experience about the business world. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I was excited to begin an internship with an organization whose goal is to help women business owners and who provides support from real world business professionals. Assisting the Child Care and Latina Programs I learned and practiced some of the WBDC’s most valuable goals.
I was fortunate to be under the guidance of Maria Lopez, director of the Latina Programs. I sat in counseling sessions, workshops and interviews where I learned some of the many issues facing small businesses in Illinois today. Major issues include lack of resources in the western suburbs and lack of access to capital throughout the entire state. Seeing the dedication that the WBDC has to finding solutions for these businesses so that they can have a chance at succeeding is truly inspiring.
My involvement with outreach efforts and preparation for the Annual Child Care Business Expo was such a rewarding experience. With more than 500 attendees, child care providers obtained knowledge from a variety of workshops geared toward day care start-ups and established businesses. There was an incredible energy and excitement in the air with everyone from the major sponsors, to the child care business owners to the industry experts, it was contagious. Attendees received the opportunity to visit a floor full of resources to help them exchange ideas and network. During the Expo, I had my first encounter with some of the child care business owners in Illinois, heard fascinating success stories and felt that even as an intern, my contribution made a difference.
I had the opportunity to visit a home day care center in Lake County with the manager of marketing to interview one of the WBDC’s most successful clients, Martina Rocha. Martina’s tough challenges trying to lift up her home day care motivated her to create a child care association in Round Lake to provide the resources needed for child care providers in Lake County. Martina taught me the importance of peer-to-peer business support, the importance of giving back to the community and the significant role that early childhood education plays for our children and communities. She is an inspiration to all.
The WBDC is expanding the Child Care and Latina programs to the greater Chicagoland area to solve a problem many aspiring Illinois business owners outside of Chicago are facing, lack of resources. I was presented with the task of providing extensive research from the 2010 Census regarding the population in Illinois. In my research I found that the majority of the Latino population is residing in the western suburbs of Chicago. In addition, more than 50% of the Illinois population resides in McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Cook and Will Counties, which all lie within the greater Chicagoland area. In the endeavor to expand and reach our communities, the WBDC has already begun to act on this goal by providing workshops in Melrose Park and partnering with organizations within these counties to provide the resources they need.
The knowledge I’ve gained gave me the opportunity to present a marketing workshop to our Spanish speaking clients within the community of Little Village. This gave me first-hand experience as a consultant and business professional. It was a wonderful learning experience that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life and be able to apply to anything I do.
Working with Maria Lopez, the WBDC and its’ clients has been a wonderful experience. Although my internship has now ended, I am happy to announce that I am now a WBDC staff member. As the Client Database Analyst, I am fortunate to be a part of an amazing organization, and I look forward to contributing to the overall goal of the WBDC!
Carolina Diaz is Client Database Analyst at the WBDC.