WestBridge Vocational (WBV) has a history of hosting interns from Western Carolina University (WCU). This summer, Hayden Huffman a Communication major with an emphasis on Public Relations interned at WestBridge. Hayden reached out to WBV for a job shadow experience in the Fundraising Development Department. Supervising the internship was Chris Stuckey, The Community Engagement Liaison, and Mike Rogers, Director of Fund Development assisted. The job shadow involved participation in business meetings, facility tours, introductions, and an opportunity to interview Chris. These experiences gave Hayden more insight into the day-to-day business activities of our Hybrid-Social Enterprise – WestBridge Vocational.
Where are you from, and how did you end up at WCU?
I am from Hickory, North Carolina, and I ended up at WCU because of the welcoming environment that I was exposed to the moment I walked on campus. The campus attitude is uplifting and encouraging to everyone, making me feel acknowledged for my individual success. The atmosphere of the campus and its comfortability reminded me of my small town, making it feel like a home away from home.
Who at WCU was a positive influence?
Many of the positive influences I have come across include the professors in my communication major. If I had to choose one, it would be Dr. Scott Eldredge, who is also my advisor. He brings positivity to education and helps all students with their academics, including myself.
Why did you come to WestBridge?
I came to WestBridge because of my passion to help others and their mission to employ all types of people. WestBridge strives to make the workplace an environment that is possible for everyone to make an impact on society. I want to be a part of an organization that helps people become something that they were told they couldn’t be, to break the expectations placed on people. That is what drove me to WestBridge.
What are some takeaways from your experience at WestBridge?
From what I gathered from my shadowing at WestBridge is that this is an organization that cares and that it is possible to find a job that you love. Many nonprofits tend to focus on budget and getting donors and sponsorships with little consideration as to who they are trying to help. While that is important to the nonprofit field, WestBridge focuses on having their employees succeed and find a sense of accomplishment alongside a community that works together.
As a WCU graduate, what is your 2 to 5-year plan?
As begin to think of graduation in May 2023, my 2–5-year plan begins with finding a job where I have an interest. The nonprofit field for me is my primary focus as I begin my career to build up experience and help people become something greater. I have always found myself being motivating, positive, and confident in the work I am doing for others, so if I can start by spreading those traits to those who need it, that is where I want to begin. My long-term plan after setting a foundation is to look toward the sports media world. I am learning to be a Public Relations professional and have already established some friendly connections with athletic teams in Charlotte, NC. I have a long way to go to get to a position there, but that is my plan for now.
What is the essential thing your learned from your job shadowing experience at WestBridge?
The essential thing that I learned from WestBridge Vocational is that you do not need to be afraid of reaching out to others or overthink your life plan to find success. The people at WestBridge taught me that we need to have positive influences all around us and build connections that will make us better people, not to be alone in our pursuit of greatness. We all strive to be successful but if you are not doing what you love, then success becomes much harder to achieve. If we work together and find our passion to help each other succeed, then success is just around the corner.