Guest Blog: An Internship with a Reality Check

By: Abby Trahan, Texas State University Student

The first day of my internship my mind was racing with questions and potential opportunities that  awaited me at the Chamber. I was excited to work for something that was larger than myself. Not to mention I could walk to my internship, wear business casual clothing, pack a lunch, and have the feeling of being a young professional. I was under the impression that that’s all it takes, right?

I was naive.

I was met face to face with the reality that this internship was not just about what I could do for the Chamber, but who I was.

In order for a Chamber to be successful, I learned that it is not about doing the task, but how you do the task. Not creating an event where members network with one another, but how you create that event, and what type of environment is fostered.

A lightbulb went off when I realized that character and personality is what matters in the service industry. Anyone can gain a skill but how you showcase the skill is crucial. This is relevant in my field of study, Public Administration.

My internship had very little to do with the tasks that I could complete. It was more about what ideas and perspective I was able to share. It was an opportunity for the Chamber to gain insight about millennials and their perspective of the business sector and how they understand community.

The San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce does not just want development for the businesses here, they recognize the importance of keeping the whole community working cohesively and efficiently to ensure the most beneficial economic development can occur.

Many of my peers have sought internships in some of the cities nearby, such as, Austin or San Antonio. I wanted to be in San Marcos because I saw the value of giving back to a community that has given me so much. I saw an opportunity to learn what exactly happens to a small community when all of a sudden there is rapid growth. So why not seek an educational opportunity from the pathfinder in Texas, San Marcos?

This internship has helped me to see what it means to give to something actually much larger than myself. In the service industry there is a lot more intertwining and individual character that comes into play than my naive self first believed.

Abby Trahan interned with the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce for the summer of 2017. 

Guest Blog: Summer Externing Happened So Fast

By: Susan Perez, English Language Arts Teacher, Goodnight Middle School

Last school year, SMCISD, in conjunction with the San Marcos Area of Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Workforce Solutions, offered the opportunity for secondary teachers to be externs for participating businesses, known as the Summer Educator Externship Program. This program, in particular, is a chance for teachers to immerse in a job for three days in order to bring back “real-world” experiences to their students. A planning day with the other externs is set later in the summer to tailor lessons based on the educator’s experience. In its second year, 17 teachers have joined to continue the growth of business-to-education partnerships.

Mike Doyle, CTE Director at the high school, leads this program and made my high school aspirations come true when he paired me with the San Marcos Daily Record. Hour one on the job had me wading in the river in a dress, attempting to get some information from scientists on the current status of the Texas wild rice. I was way out of my comfort zone, trying to tell a story without exactly knowing which questions to ask. I had never considered myself a shy person, but I was nervous and lost. Luckily, the photographer, Denise Cathey, had literally jumped in with me to get the interview going. I got the information I needed and wrote my first piece that day. The legendary Anita Miller, Editor in Chief, approved.

Upon reflecting, I was reminded of the importance of feeling uncomfortable in order to push yourself and grab that feeling of accomplishment. I had been a middle school teacher for 15 years at that point, so I have a strong understanding of my role as an educator. As a journalist, though, all of my background knowledge came from a high school class. I appreciated the vote of confidence from Ms. Miller, despite all of my personal doubts. It solidified for me that my own students need to feel that discomfort sometimes where they’re just “thrown in” to explore, so they can also feel that elevated sense of pride upon achievement.

The following school year, I shared my experiences with my students–my feelings on the first day and obviously, the connections to journalism with the writing skills I was teaching them. I even reached out to the sports writer of the Daily Record, Ishmael Johnson, and asked him to create a video on how to write a sports piece. He made an amazing instructional video for my students who used his instruction to gain confidence about writing about football and volleyball games. Our athletic director posted these student sports writers’ pieces to Rattler Nation online, and these young writers felt proud to be published.

Fast-forward a year, and I’m partnered with Samantha Brown, Vice President of Communications and Events for the Chamber of Commerce. Samantha’s job takes a special combination of big-picture thinking, persuasive abilities, listening skills, and professionalism. I look forward to reiterating to my students that their intense texting skills will not necessarily translate to the work force. Instead, a well-crafted email with the proper tone and word choice can be the first or last hurdle in getting what you want from your boss, client, whomever. But the in-person conversations matter most. Many students have to be taught to look at you while you’re speaking, to listen with intention, and to be civil to learning partners. Now I have concrete examples of the importance of these soft skills from this second externship that are not my usual stories of what it’s like working in education.

In sum, these back-to-back externships have been valuable to me as both a teacher and a born-in-San-Marcos local. I can now say with certainty that businesses should be more involved in our education. The adolescent brain is immature–it has a hard time recognizing future outcomes. I know many of my students have difficulty visualizing themselves in any particular job, especially when their families do not own a business. In fact, many of my students are unaware of the businesses in downtown San Marcos because they don’t go there; they don’t have the access. If we, as teachers, are doing everything we can to provide the knowledge and skills to create productive citizens, we need real examples of where these skills could be used. For those students who have more mobility patronizing the businesses of San Marcos and having parental support to help them visualize their career trajectories, we want to keep these students in our town. Many of my best and brightest students leave our community without a look back. A business who reaches out to secondary schools in a positive way leaves an imprint on these students’ memories that could make a difference upon graduation when deciding their life choices. If my short stints have left such an impression on me, imagine what repeated opportunities could do for our youth.

 

Susan Perez worked with the Chamber from 6/19/17 – 6/21/17.

 

Classroom to the Boardroom – 17 San Marcos Teachers Embark on Externships with Local Businesses

For Immidate Release | June 1, 2017

Classroom to the Boardroom – 17 San Marcos Teachers Embark on Externships with Local Businesses

San Marcos, TX. – This week, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce and San Marcos CISD in conjunction with Texas Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area kicked off the Summer Educator Externship Program. In its second year, this program has grown to 17 teachers and businesses.

Through the externship program, educators will be given an opportunity to shadow a business and its operations for 3 days, followed by a curriculum planning day with other externship participants. Insights learned – on the job –  will be incorporated into the teacher’s curriculum to provide students a better advantage in pursuing their future careers.

“These externships’ allow our educators the opportunity to spend time at a business or a work-site, providing a unique experience to learn something new outside the classroom,” says San Marcos CISD Career and Technical Education, Director Michael Doyle. “Our teachers can then bring these experiences, in a variety of fields, back to our students. We hope to teach our students that what they are learning in school – can and will – be used in many fields they may not think about.”

An externship is an experience outside the parameters of one’s own domain. This provides educators with a real-world experience to share in their academic instruction and creates an opportunity for the business and education system to grow in partnership.

Participating Businesses:

CFAN

Frost Bank

San Marcos Daily Record

Mochas and Javas

ColorMix

City of San Marcos

Greater San Marcos Partnership

Embassy Suites by Hilton San Marcos Hotel Conference & Spa

DTK Insurance & Financial

HH Fitness, Inc.

Heldenfels Enterprises, Inc.

The Bloom Bar

San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce

**The Summer Externship for Teachers Program is administered by Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area (WSRCA), under the Texas Workforce Commission, with federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  $74,734 was awarded to WSRCA to fund Externships for 110 teachers in DRIPPING SPRINGS ISD, GEORGETOWN ISD, ROUND ROCK ISD, AND SAN MARCOS CONSOLIDATED ISD, in partnership with their local Chamber of Commerce. San Marcos CISD and the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce will support 17 teachers and receive 15% ($11,210) of total federal award. SMCISD and the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce will match 15% ($2,800) of the 25% ($18,684) required matching funds 

**On-site interview will be available throughout the program. Please email Samanthab@sanmarcostexas.com to schedule.  

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San Marcos Chamber of Commerce Applaud the Passage of all Bonds

Press Release
For Immediate Release

May 8, 2017

San Marcos Chamber of Commerce Applaud the Passage of all Bonds

San Marcos, Texas – The San Marcos Chamber of Commerce – following the passage of the City, Library, and School bonds on Saturday – released the following statements applauding the community for voting in favor of much needed resources for our growing and thriving community. 

“The San Marcos community spoke loud and clear; we must invest in our future,” says San Marcos Chamber Education Committee Chair Heath Herrera. “As community leaders, it is our duty to ensure we provide the needed resources to our schools, emergency responders, and our community library. With the passage of the bonds – we can look forward to kids learning in adequate class rooms, a library that can fully serve the community, and a more robust fire and police department.”

“The Chamber is proud to see these measures pass with such overwhelming support,” says Chamber President & CEO Jason Mock. “San Marcos is growing quickly, and I don’t foresee it slowing down anytime soon. These bonds are the first step in addressing the growing needs of businesses and our thriving community.”

San Marcos Chamber of Commerce Endorse ALL propositions in the upcoming May Bond Election

Press Release
For Immediate Release      April 10, 2017                                                                                                                         Media Contact:                  Samantha Brown | 512-393-5906
San Marcos Chamber of Commerce Endorse ALL propositions in the upcoming May Bond Election

 San Marcos, Texas – Today, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce announced the organization’s support of San Marcos, Texas’ three bond proposals slated to go before voters on May 6th.

 “The need for the proposed bonds to pass is evident” says San Marcos Chamber Board Chair Monica Malorgio McNabb.  “The City of San Marcos and San Marcos CISD have put together broad, fiscally-responsible proposals to address the growing needs of our community, including public safety, overcrowding, education and literacy. The Chamber Board of Directors voted unanimously to support passage of all bonds.”

“The San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes that the state of our schools, city library, and public safety is directly tied to the vitality of San Marcos’s business environment” says Chamber President & CEO Jason Mock. “We appreciate the numerous presentations from Mayor Thomaides, Superintendent Cardona and other officials, providing us the opportunity to understand and analyze the need for the three separate bonds. We owe it to our community to provide adequate resources to ensure we are prepared for the projected growth.”

The Public Safety Proposition would authorize a $17,450,000 tax bond to improve facilities, renovate the 911 Call Center, relocate and construct two fire stations as well as build a fire training field. The City Library Proposition would authorize a $14,750,000 tax bond to add the proposed 29,000 square feet to the current facility including additional meeting space. The Schools Proposition would authorize a $107,300,000 Bond Package that would add classroom space, buildings, a transportation facility, and implementation of additional energy management systems. 

The San Marcos Area Chamber encourage members to vote ‘yes’ on all Propositions.

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“Phishing” what is it, how do I recognize it, and what do I do?

By: Samantha Brown

Before joining the staff at the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce I spend 3+ years working for the United States House of Representatives and each year I was required to do annual security training, with emphasis on email; specifically, phishing.

During my tenure in Congress we experienced the largest breach in federal staff security ever, with 21.5 million federal employees, contract employees, applicants and family members having their information stolen (per the Office of Personal Management, OPM) and at a great cost to the American people as tax dollars currently fund the credit monitoring for all effected.

Government agencies of all sizes are a target, they keep records for a sizeable amount of personnel and usually have more extensive personal information than private companies. Unfortunately, private companies are not spared from phishing.

What it is – people spoofing relevant email address in hopes to collect personal information for tax fraud, security clearances, and virus implementation.

How to spot it – Phishing emails typically come from an “inside” email asking for, specific data or come with a subject of “urgent” or “account needs to be verified”. Any email asking for your Social Security Number is suspicious, if there is a link to verify, be weary. Be cautious, these emails look legitimate but are often slightly off. If an email requesting personal information from your employer comes through, but is not from a specific person you recognize, take note. Look for discrepancy in name spelling and what they are asking for. E-mails usually come with note of urgency ” immediate action required”.

What you can do – Call the department requesting the information and verify the request. Call the person you received the email from and validate the email. If no one recognizes the request; do not answer.

How to report it – First and foremost contact your IT department (should you have one) so they can notify staff. Notify all superiors as soon as possible so they can also alert staff to “phishing” and then subsequently notify their banking entity for fraud monitoring.

Forward all suspected phishing emails to spam@uce.gov.

For more information and additional resources please visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing.

If you have additional questions please send them to samanthab@sanmarcostexas.com.