River Heights Chamber of Commerce steps up to support Inver Hills grad
Pedro Delgado Hernández graduated from Inver Hills Community College in May 2020. Pedro didn’t get the chance to attend the college’s commencement ceremony, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He did, however, receive the opportunity to complete an internship thanks to the resourcefulness of his internship site, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce.
“Pedro was a business major at Inver Hills,” said Emily Johnson, the college’s director of career development. “He received a Travelers EDGE Scholarship, which provides roughly $12,000 a year to help pay for his education at a four-year college or university. One important goal of Travelers EDGE is giving students the chance to gain experience via an in-person internship, but the novel coronavirus crisis ruled out the prospect of Pedro performing his internship duties onsite.”
Emily reported that the River Heights Chamber of Commerce (RHCC) solved the problem by offering Pedro the opportunity to complete a virtual internship. “The Center for Career Development and Community-Based Learning at Inver Hills is working with our business and community partners to make the transition from onsite internships to online internships,” she said. “The Center and our partners are very responsive to the climate of job losses caused by the pandemic as well as the new needs of a virtual workforce.”
Community partner perspective: River Heights Chamber of Commerce
Nicole Bengtson, IOM, RHCC director of marketing and communications, worked with Emily Johnson to make Pedro’s internship a reality. “Pedro’s technical skills were critical to helping the Chamber jump-start its response to the sudden shift in business operations,” Nicole said. “He was instrumental with assisting with members’ videos, getting our webinars and videos on our YouTube playlist, and researching new ideas and implementing content for the Chamber’s South Metro Living Guide.”
Nicole Bengtson • Q & A
Why did RHCC decide to continue Pedro’s internship virtually?
Just as the rest of the Chamber staff had to adapt and pivot to do our work remotely, we knew Pedro’s help would still be needed now, more than ever. It was very evident we wanted him to continue the internship with us. Communication is a key element within our staff, and it was so essential when COVID-19 hit. Pedro was a great fit with our staff as he always communicated effectively and efficiently with our team.
How did RHCC adapt to an online mentorship role?
We kept our line of communication open by having weekly staff Zoom meetings and being responsive to email and text messages to answer questions and conduct check-ins on our tasks at hand. We made sure Pedro was provided with the materials, systems access and resources needed to complete his work. Pedro was able to work independently and conduct research remotely for a project he started when we were onsite at the beginning of his internship.
How is RHCC responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is continuing to be a voice of reason, sharing factual information as it becomes available, and we work tirelessly to advocate for and support our local businesses and communities. We funnel information down to our members and the community through our COVID-19 resource webpage and include information from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), state government, Minnesota Retailers Association and other useful resources and partners.
In March, we compiled a list of local restaurants, coffee shops and bars, and food establishments to continue connecting the community to who is offering take-out and/or deliveries in the River Heights Region Restaurant & Food Guide. The River Heights Chamber will continue to update events, add virtual meetings and webinars, update job postings and share successes of our business community to our website and social media.
What challenges is RHCC meeting to serve clients virtually?
Cashflow to local small businesses is one of the greatest challenges we have heard. The Chamber is committed to supporting its local businesses in any way we can. Most importantly, we want to make sure to push out the messages of what businesses are open and who’s opening soon—businesses can share how they are operating right now through the Chamber’s online publications and social media.
The Chamber also loves to share success stories and how businesses and people are helping each other in time of need. “A lot of the folks that make up these businesses are local residents, when you’re supporting those businesses you’re supporting your neighbors,” stated Adam Bengtson, chairman of the board for the River Heights Chamber.
More about the River Heights Chamber of Commerce…
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is committed to its mission to aggressively promote the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. Driving economic progress and business development is its focus. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members.
Dear River Heights Business Community,
It has been a hard time to be in leadership, and I imagine for most of you, it’s been a hard time to be a business owner or employee, a school administrator, a government official, a parent, a student, a friend. What we are currently experiencing is definitely new territory for all of us.
First and foremost, I want to assure you that the River Heights Chamber of Commerce will continue to be a voice of reason, sharing factual information as it becomes available and we will work tirelessly to advocate for and support our local businesses and communities. We will be funneling information down to you through our resource page, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, MN DEED and other useful resources and partners. In March, we compiled a list of local restaurants, coffee shops & bars, and food establishments to continue connecting the community to who is offering take-out and/or deliveries (email Colleen with updates) in the River Heights Region Restaurant & Food Guide.
We will continue to update events, add virtual meetings and webinars, update job postings and share successes of our business community to our website and social media.
We encourage you to come to the social media table with gratitude and positivity. Why? Because we need to band together as businesses and community to support one another—we are stronger together!
What can you do?
- Post your business doing some random act of kindness
- Highlight your staff or a product we can learn about
- Send us a short video on your business
- Share fun facts or historical anecdotes about your business
- Shout out to another local business
We are in this together. If you have any suggestions for the River Heights Chamber, feel free to email us. We may not have the answer, but we can listen. I am so proud of the measures so many of you are taking already to adapt and showcase leadership to those around you.
River Heights Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Intern perspective: Pedro Delgado Hernández
Originally from a town of about 400 people in the province of Mayabeque in western Cuba, Pedro moved with his family to the U.S. when he was 13 years old. A 2017 graduate of Henry Sibley High School, he followed the Business Transfer Pathway at Inver Hills, earning his Associate of Science (A.S.) degree. Pedro plans on transferring to Augsburg University or Metropolitan State University to earn a B.S. in Business Administration with a focus on marketing, finance or economics.
Pedro Delgado Hernández • Q & A
How did you adapt to the transition from an onsite internship to a virtual internship?
At first, it was nerve-wracking with a new situation and having to adapt so soon. But I always had the support of my supervisors, and we set in motion really quickly to find ways to continue working remotely and making sure we were ready. We sent up a group chat and emails on our devices and would have weekly meetings to make sure we were on time working towards our projects without any problems.
What did you learn from your RHCC virtual internship?
I learned how important communication is when you work remotely, especially being able to work from an email and keep working on projects from home. I learned that it is really important to stay in touch and ask more questions since it’s harder to understand projects or learn new things from home—especially important to be proactive instead of reactive. This allows for more work to be done and be done correctly in time while the situation is not ideal or simply unexpected.
What were the greatest challenges of working as a virtual intern?
Being able to focus while working from home and making sure that everyone was on the same page while working on a project. Also, working with more limited access and having to change so many projects or events that were planned, but could not be done because of the situation. So lots of planning and making sure that things were going according to plan and the new schedule adapted to the pandemic and closing, etc.
What advice would you give students and graduates who are considering a virtual internship?
To let them know that while it might be a new thing for them and it might seem impossible, it is not, everyone is working hard together to make sure that things work correctly, and the team is there to support them and guide them so that they have a successful learning experience and have an amazing time while at it.
Just to work hard and ask as many questions as needed! Also, checking email more frequently and responding as soon as possible—that will help a lot in keeping in touch and having information up to date!
Learn more about Pedro by reading “Travelers EDGE Scholar Spotlight: Pedro Delgado Hernández” on Inver Hills News.
Indeed Career Guide • April 3, 2020
Gaining industry experience has significant benefits whether you are in high school, college or entering into the workforce. Regardless of your current education level or desired career path, an internship can encourage your professional growth. By reviewing the following benefits of internships, you can determine whether or not it is something you want to pursue. In this article, we define why internships are important before delving into the topic more in-depth, with 12 reasons why an internship is essential.
Why is an internship important?
An internship is important because it can present you with new skills and opportunities that you would not receive otherwise. Interns not only gain technical knowledge within the industry of their choice, but they also learn how to interact with professionals in a workplace setting, and develop essential soft skills like time management, organization, adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork.
12 reasons why internships are beneficial
Here are 12 reasons that expand on why an internship is essential to your personal and professional development:
- Tests industry knowledge
- Helps you figure out your interests
- Creates new interests
- Connects you to industry professionals
- Allows you to learn in a safe environment
- Gives you the opportunity to get paid to learn
- Provides possible credit for your college degree
- Allows you to potentially gain more internship opportunities
- Creates a unique travel experience
- Inspires you to learn more about an industry
- Teaches you about the importance of work-life balance
- Introduces you to office politics
The Center for Career Development and Community-Based Learning (CCD+CBL) at Inver Hills builds careers and strengthens communities by engaging students in the lifelong process of career development and active citizenship.
Community-based learning (CBL) at Inver Hills offers a wide variety of ways to learn and engage with your community, which can be your college campus or Dakota County or the state of Minnesota or points beyond. CBL takes place inside and outside the classroom through courses, Student Life activities and campus events.
You can explore many benefits by participating in CBL:
- Concrete experience to showcase to employers skills in problem-solving, communication, critical thinking skills and more
- Hands-on way of learning course content
- Building relationships with students, faculty, staff and community members
- Learning civic skills
- Finding your passion and a way to make a change in the world
Learn more about the River Heights Chamber of Commerce by contacting:
Nicole Bengtson, IOM
Director of Marketing & Communications
River Heights Chamber of Commerce
651-451-2266 ext. 3
5782 Blackshire Path
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota 55076
Follow RHCC on Facebook
Follow RHCC on Twitter
Follow RHCC on Instagram
Learn more about the Center for Career Development and Community-Based Learning (CCD+CBL) by contacting:
Director of Career Development
Community-Based Learning Coordinator