Joyce Bender and AshaOver the years I have met many wonderful, young people that show the promise of being business and disability rights leaders of the future. The following blog was written by one of my interns, Asha, about her time in our office. It has been a joy for me and my team here at Bender Consulting Services, Inc. to get to watch as Asha has grown in confidence and skill over the last several months. I hope you enjoy her unique perspective into the inner workings of our office.

An Intern’s Story by Asha Dasari

The summer after I graduated high school was a weird time for me. I was at that awkward point in life, where I was leaving behind one chapter of my life and moving on to the next. I absolutely hated it. I was and still am heartbroken about all the friends that I had left behind because I closed that chapter of my life, but I know that there was nothing I could do about it. Even so, I dreaded the next stage of my life. I didn’t really know what my future held, and any ideas I had were admittedly bleak. I didn’t know if I would be able to forge friendships the same way that I did in high school or be able to get the fresh start I wanted. I was worried about being dogged by the memories that were best left behind. Frankly, I was terrified of abandoning everything I had grown familiar with and moving on to something that could quite possibly have been much worse.

I dreaded the next stage of my life…

caricature of AshaI still remember how nervous I was the day my mom told me that I was going to get a phone call from Bender. Learning about Bender and then immediately starting the job the next day all happened so quickly. Not only was I beginning the next stage of my life, but I was also starting my first job ever. I was extremely worried that I would hate it. I was terrified that I would make a bad impression on everyone. Worst of all, I was absolutely convinced that I wouldn’t make any friends.  I am so, so glad to say that I was proven wrong.

I was first greeted by Paula, who opened the door for me. I took one look at the little dog she was carrying with her (which I immediately decided that I wanted to become best friends with) and I knew I would be in for an interesting ride. Still I remained a bit cautious. If you were to ask anyone in the office what their first impression was of me, they would all agree that they thought I was extremely shy. I mean, I couldn’t walk into my first day revealing to everyone that I was an anti-sock weirdo who has a bad habit of covering people’s office in sticky notes when they mildly annoy me, right? That would have been much worse, or so I thought. The Asha from a year ago would have never believed that Bender would grow to accept such a weird Asha – but that was exactly what happened!

When I was told by my boss that everyone here was like a family, he was not lying to me.

Everyone here has been nothing but patient and kind to me. When I was told by my boss that everyone here was like a family, he was not lying to me. Everyone here has their own quirks and a wide range of personalities, but they all shared extremely strong bonds forged over the common goal of making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. The amount of love and support among everyone was overwhelming. They always were rooting for me from day one, even when they didn’t know about my secret identity as a doughnut misanthropist yet. Their unshakeable faith in me taught me that I was capable of being a meaningful contributor to this world. I had always doubted myself and my abilities, but Bender has slowly changed that. People close to me have criticized my art skills and made me doubt myself. But Bender? The CEO of the company quite literally hurried to my desk and asked me to design a logo for an international campaign she was doing after seeing a minion I drew! I mean, what other company do you think would do that?

I know that because of the confidence I learned here, not only will I be prepared, but I will excel.

The tasks and assignments I have been apart of here at Bender have left me not with just a confidence and attitude adjustment, but quite a few skills as well. My communications skills have blossomed. This is truly exciting to me as I go back to school. It seems that my future it is not so bleak as I once thought it was. Instead I know that the confidence in myself that came through making countless phone calls to candidates, customers, and colleagues have allowed me to become a much better communicator. This skill is one that translates beyond the classroom and into the board room. When my future self needs to advocate for my own career I am not worried. I know that because of the confidence I learned here, not only will I be prepared, but I will excel.

As a business and psychology major at the University of Pittsburgh the experience of this internship has allowed me to develop the human relations experience that will set me apart from my peers (not that being anti-sock didn’t set me apart enough). The ability to understand the recruiting process from interview to onboarding of new hires gives me a unique set of skills and many heartwarming stories to tell. This coupled with the fact that the company that I worked for was not just worried about a bottom line has given me a unique perspective into what it truly means to be a person of professionalism and purpose, when that purpose is a focus on making a positive impact on the world around me.

… a dedication to changing individual lives can result in changing the world.

I also received a crash course of what ordinary ethics look like when embodied by extraordinary people. It was amazing to watch the lengths that my manager, Gerald would go to in order to help a candidate before an interview, and how much he cared about them. It really was a delight to see how much care was put into my coworker Jill’s colorful spreadsheets and the astounding amounts of patience she had even when dealing with the toughest of candidates. Gerald’s thoroughness and Jill’s organizational skills not only helped me to build up my own professional competencies but gave me the opportunity to see how different personalities can come together to make a dynamic team. This experience not only showed me how a corporation can be something more than dollars and numbers, but that a dedication to changing individual lives can result in changing the world. I learned that leadership is not a burden, nor an innate quality. It is not something you become – instead it is a conscious choice to not accept preconceived notions and in turn choose to elevate those around you instead of denigrating them.

I am certain there are more great things that will await me … I don’t dread it any longer.

I have grown a lot at from my time at Bender. While I am sad that I am leaving at the end of this summer, I do not fear this ending like I did the end of high school. The most important thing I learned from Bender was that moving forward is something to look forward to. If I had stayed in high school—Well, first of all, that would have been lame, because I never want to take Calculus again (Sorry, Volpe. You were great, but math wasn’t my thing) – but I would never have met my second family, become best friends with the little dog Paula was carrying when I first met her (his name was Buddy, by the way), and held on to all the amazing memories Bender has gifted me. Now, I look forward to what the future holds, and don’t look back on my time here with sadness, but with fondness. I am certain there are more great things that will await me in college (aside from the all-nighters, of course), and I don’t dread it any longer.

For that, I thank everyone at Bender from the bottom of my heart.

 

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