Empowering Economic Development as an SLC Chamber of Commerce Intern
Charles Shaw '22 feels that he has found a home in the North Country. After four years at St. Lawrence, he wanted to give back to the surrounding community.
That's why he spent the summer after his graduation interning with the St. Lawrence Country Chamber of Commerce, where he had opportunities to better understand the region through the lens of small business and economic development. Charles' experience was made possible by the St. Lawrence University Public Interest Corp (SLUPIC) program, which provides funding and on-campus housing for students pursuing summer internships with local non-profits and organizations.
Charles shared what he learned about the North Country and himself while exploring St. Lawrence County from Governeur to Massena and the Seaway to Cranberry Lake.
Charles Shaw '22
Major/Minor: Government major, Canadian Studies minor
Hometown: Guilford, Connecticut
SLUPIC Internship: St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce
Why were you interested in interning with this particular North Country organization?
After four years in the North Country, I feel I've become a part of the community, and working for a non-profit seemed like a way that I could give back to this place that I’ve grown to call home. The St. Lawrence County Chamber specifically focuses on developing a sustainable economy in the county, something that benefits everyone in the region. This mission appeals to me. It feels like a cause that allows me to make a real difference in the county residents' quality of life.
What is an average day with the Chamber of Commerce like for you?
The job includes some office work, mainly updating our website with accurate business information for tourism purposes. Beyond that, I’ve worked on the strategic development of a plan for resident recruitment in the area, I’ve biked and hiked trails in the area that we can promote on our website, and I’ve provided support at local events including a Bassmaster tournament in nearby Waddington.
How has this experience enriched or changed your understanding of the North Country?
Working this job has broadened my view of the North Country beyond the average student experience. I’ve definitely realized the true importance of Ogdensburg and Massena within the economic scope of the county, and have met and interacted with several leaders from those areas over the past few weeks. I’ve also realized how truly massive this county is—it’s roughly the same area as the state of Rhode Island. This can pose a challenge to any organization when trying to coordinate county-wide policy. I’ve learned that the key to successfully rolling out any event or initiative is establishing strong working relationships with local leaders in communities across the county.
What have you learned about yourself through this experience?
I like working a job where I can get out and about. This job has let me explore the county and check out different communities and locations. I’ve also gotten to meet many interesting people and leaders from economic consultants, to small-town mayors, to the Governor of New York. This keeps things interesting and makes for an engaging learning experience.
Do you feel this experience has influenced your career path in any way? If so, how?
It has confirmed my conviction that small-town living is the path that I want to take. The tight-knit communities in small towns like Canton are friendly, interesting, and offer a nice quality of life. I definitely think that living in a community like this would be super enjoyable and would ground me throughout my career.
Is there anything you got to do while living on campus over the summer that you aren’t usually able to do in the fall or spring?
Some of the most pleasant weather I’ve ever experienced. Throughout my time here, there has only been one day of weather above 90º—you can’t beat that.