The Associate through the eyes of “The Host”
By Benjamin Watson
“And with the last case presented, Lauren Gribbon is this year’s ‘Associate!’” Although I wasn’t the one uttering the words announcing who would be this year’s Associate, let alone competing for the title, there was a feeling of accomplishment as the long journey of being the host was over for now.
Mrs. Michocki, Director of Professional Experience, asked me to be the host for this semester just before the competition was to begin. My duties would include recognizing the panel of judges and guest presenters each week, introducing the teams as they were about to present, as well as informing the audience about upcoming events. The tasks seemed easy enough and I was free on Tuesdays around 5 p.m. So I thought, “Why not?”
I got my suit pressed and cleaned, shined my shoes, and even got a haircut for my big “opening night.” What I couldn’t control were my nerves which led me to wrongly address the judges on the panel as “Dr.” instead of “Mr.,”and so on. Everyone on the panel got a laugh out of it as well as the competition candidates, who were giving their introductory bios that opening night. But I was not as pleased with myself. After the event, some professors encouraged me by saying “It came out in humor. You could have called everyone ‘Plumber’ and no one would have minded.” The Associates were thankful too, saying, “You did that just to put us at ease right?” Of course I did.
But just as each Associate candidate improved from week to week during their presentations, my introductions of the panelists improved, too. The presenting teams became close to friends of my own, and my nerves significantly decreased each time I was in front of the panel. Although each week I was given a new set of names for a company I may or may not have heard of before to introduce to a room full of students, faculty and university officials.
Almost just as challenging as the public speaking was seeing my fellow students and friends be let go from the competition one by one. Each week once the panel deliberated and decided who would be sent home each week, I would sit back and be a part of the audience for a brief time. With one of my friends getting sent home each week, I was not in a favorable position. At least those in the competition were rooting against each other because there was a nice prize at stake, but I had to sit by each week and see someone whom I had become close with go home.
As the weeks continued on and the number of competitors shrunk, we were down to the final two with Javier Bermudez and Lauren Gribbon. The final case was from PNC and asked the competitors how the bank could become more involved with Lacrosse in Maryland. I was invited to attend, but I was not going to be speaking in front of the crowd. As Matt Martin, the Vice President of PNC bank, made his decision, it hit me that my time as host was over. It was then that I began reflecting on how this experience helped me grow more than I originally thought it might. I learned how to think on my feet and speak eloquently in front of a group of people. I also learned that in those situations mistakes can happen and as long as you accept your mistakes with poise and grace, they’re not the end of the world. In fact can they can open the door for you to get even better.
It’s not every day you are asked to present for: the Dean of the College of Business and Economics, the Provost of the University, as well as three executives from PNC Bank including an Executive VP. While the idea of that might sound intimidating, I resoundingly recommend when presented with an opportunity, just think “Why not?”