Marana’s interns share their summer experiences.
Bad times seem to drag on and on, and good times always seem to be over too quickly. Well, that definitely was the case last week. Not the bad times, but the good ones. The Arizona City/County Management Association Conference came and went, and it certainly went fast. It was an enjoyable, probably one of the best professional experiences I’ve had (other than this internship, of course).
Tony and I showed up at the crackadawn at Dove Mountain to set things up. We checked in, got name tags, and met Amy Price, the woman who was our point of contact. She helped us get settled in and let us know where things were. So Tony and I set up our table, draped our Marana emblazoned table cloth over it, and began the trips back and forth from the van to our table with our “Your Town” logo bags. Even at 7 a.m., it was hot. In a matter of two trips, sweat was accumulating on our foreheads, and we were seeking respite from the sun. We fought on, however, and after bringing in 175 bags, we were set.
We freshened up, sat down, and awaited the throngs of people we were sure to see. But they never came. In the early morning, people trickled in and looked hesitant to take a bag. We did our best to entice them, but really to no avail. At one point, we almost had to chase a guy down to give him a bag. That wasn’t going to work, so we regrouped. However, as soon as 11 a.m. hit, people came in more frequently, and were less hesitant to take a bag. Our job was soon done for us, as people would just come and snatch one up.
Unfortunately, we could not leave the table, as we were on strict bag duty. However, we did get to catch a great presentation by the Town’s Vickie Hathaway and Anne Berkman on our organization’s cultural values. Needless to say, whatever nerves they had were totally gone by the time they got up front. Everything flowed naturally and comfortably, and they transitioned between one another perfectly.
On Thursday, we had more freedom. We were able to attend as many presentations as we liked, as long as the bag table was well-stocked. We saw several interesting presentations on managing through transition, economic updates and a presentation about our “Your Town” brand by Rodney Campbell and Ramon Armenta. We finished the night with an invitation-only dinner, filled with many city/town managers and other representatives of companies and non-profits.
Throughout the event, we networked like crazy. I ended up with business cards from many people, but more important, phone numbers of people more specifically focused on things I have interest in (economic development, planning, and more). Once the main events were over, people let loose and we saw a more personal aspect of the conference. It was an amazing time, with great people. Hopefully we’ll be back next year, and even for the Winter Conference in Sedona, to witness more good times in the local government arena.
Heath Vescovi-Chiordi is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the University of Arizona.