My name is Mae Wright and I am a senior at Arickaree School out in Eastern Colorado. Because I live in such a small community, there is a limited amount of opportunities like internships, job shadowing, and large business experiences. Arickaree had some contact with STEM School Highlands Ranch and some of the staff came down to my school to see just how much our students knew about the way STEM works. I was one of the three students asked to attend the meeting.

Honestly, until they explained it, STEM was just a word to me. The staff was interested in three of us and asked what we saw in our futures. It took me a while to think of what to answer, because normally when people ask you what you want to do with the rest of your life, you reply with the generic doctor, lawyer, astronaut, or firefighter. None of those options made sense to me, so I went with my gut and told them that accounting was my passion. This must have sparked something in their minds because within the next couple of weeks, I got asked to attend an internship at Panther Industries up in Highlands Ranch. I couldn’t believe that it was happening to me, a small-town farm-girl. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and spend three days up there.

Throughout the three days, I was placed with an extraordinary host family and learned very helpful accounting skills through Panther's accounting department. Bridgett Owen amazed me with her work ethic and organizational skills. She taught me the accounts receivable aspect and took me step by step through the process from start to finish. I am a visual learner, so when she gave me examples to look at, and when we talked to other co-workers in the building, the information clicked.

I also worked with Jill at the front desk, who taught me about the accounts payable aspect of the business. She showed me how to pay bills, reconcile, and pay taxes. I learned a lot through this job shadowing experience and it enhanced my drive to still pursue my dream of becoming a bilingual accountant.

If the opportunity arises for someone in my rural community to participate in an internship or job shadowing experience, I would tell them to go for it. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like this don’t come around that often, so if there’s a chance to get involved in something like this, don’t hesitate.

Take the leap.

- Mae Wright