KBIA Ambassador: Week 2 in Review

 In Community

Week one was a shock to the system – from the environment I was becoming comfortable with to the vast array of job responsibilities that laid on my “plate” – even just as a summer student. Unexpectedly, week two was only slightly less of the same. I was still getting adjusted to being an employee at all, let alone being an employee for such a small, dynamic organization like the BIA. I knew that I would always start my working life within a small team but the reality of being part of such a small team that has, ironically, so many moving components, is something I am still working to get comfortable with.

This week was filled with a little bit of last week but a lot of new things as well. Initially, I went around to greet more of the local business owners in the area, similar to last week. As I touched on in my last post, I knew that it was key for me to quickly build a rapport with the people in the area so I wanted to make sure I did that, and continued doing it.

Beyond the similarities to last week, I really began to get into a mind space this week that helped me better understand the business culture in the area. In working with the Kleinburg BIA, this week, I started developing a survey for the local business owners in an attempt to gather more data that the BIA could use in the future. For example, one thing that I was considering putting in the survey was a question pertaining to the target demographic of each business – which I believe the BIA could use to influence their social media targeting (when and which platforms to post on, etc.). I use this example to illustrate that beyond just doing work for the BIA, the responsibilities encompassed in this position are providing me with a genuine learning opportunity, which, in this case, is the chance to learn what information is really important to understand about a particular business. Whereas, for instance, the number of sales is an important quantifiable number to know, something like target demographics has really interesting practical application that shows me a lot with respect to how to take numbers and USE them.

Furthermore, this week required me to have a lot more conversation with people in an effort to further understand the community and get to know why people might live here but are unable or unwilling to support the local businesses. Again, this was another very informative part of my week because these discussions revealed that the reason behind the lack of local support for businesses is a lot more intricate than I assumed. Whereas I initially assumed that it was simply a case of everything being too expensive, these discussions revealed that many people cannot afford to support these businesses but sincerely try their best to do so because they want to remain loyal to their community. In this regard, again, working with the BIA has proven to be a valuable learning opportunity for me with respect to understanding the intricacies of a small business environment.

At the end of the week, I realized something. What dawned on me at the end of week two, even more than it did last week, was something that I was told during my interview process for this position. I remember clearly asking, on the advice of a few people I know, “what does a typical day with the BIA look like?”. The answer, as I have come to learn even more this week, is that there is no typical day here.

I would be lying if I said that, at least as a first-time employee, not having a strict structure to my day at work was a little unnerving initially. However, for me, the idea of not having to do the same thing over and over again was one of the greatest appeals of working for the BIA. To know that from one hour to the next I could go from doing some excel spreadsheet work to having a conversation with a Kleinburg local down the street or talking to a business owner to collect market and shopping data is incredible.

After week two, I can truly say that I am only more excited for what the future holds for me as a BIA summer student because the potential for excitement is truly limitless in this position.

Looking forward to next week,

Vimal Sivakumar

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