I have already mentioned that I was looking forward to working in claims, and I wanted to follow up that.

This week has been so much fun.

I know it’s weird, and my coworkers think I’m crazy when I tell them that claims is where it’s at, but I can’t help it. I suppose I just love people, because that’s what it really comes down to. When you work in claims, or in insurance in general, it’s about the people.

I don’t mean to say that dealing with loss is fun, because of course it isn’t. It’s always unfortunate when something terrible happens but putting things back together and getting the insured back to pre-loss condition is rewarding. Not that I’ve specifically done any of that, but I’ve watched the process.

Though I’m still deciding what I want to pursue as a career I must say that I would definitely work in claims. I understand that it can be stressful, and I understand that it can be difficult. I would still become a claims adjustor, property field claim supervisor, or work in special investigations. It has been said that millennials are looking to get out of the cubicle, and here’s a word to the wise: if you want the stability of a job but the freedom of not being at a desk all day, go into SIU or Field Claims, etc. My ride-alongs and shadowing sessions have been very cool.

That being said, I have two weeks and two days left. I’ve been thinking a lot about what my place in this internship actually means. I see it this way; as an intern I have two choices. I could either do what is expected of me, or I could do what has always been encouraged of me and “go beyond”. I know the choice seems obvious, but it’s difficult to figure out how I can exceed expectations. Besides being enthusiastic and completing the work that is asked of me, how can I make a difference?

Fortunately my supervisor has given me the opportunity to present what I’ve learned at my internship’s conclusion. So in addition to presenting on what I now know about insurance and what I liked about the internship, as planned, I’ve decided to add on another presentation about Kemper’s social media presence. My hope is to propose a change in Kemper’s current use of social media and leave a bunch of ideas that could help the company reach out to potential insureds.

When I thought of the idea part of me had no intention of actually going through with it, but I made myself email my supervisor and ask for the project. I have the extra time and I’m enjoying this project so far. Since I’m already present on social media (though there is a lot more for me to learn) I can lend my skills to the company. So why not?

So often I’ve found that the title of ‘intern’ leads to a specific view of one’s role in a company. I have even found that I perpetuate the stereotype sometimes. During my week in Woodland I went to a lunch hosted by the chamber of commerce during which they held a raffle. For one of the prizes the emcee had me select the winner, and announced that he’d “let the intern choose” to the delight (I gauge this by the laughter) of the various businesspeople in the room. While I was a good sport about it, it was the first time I felt as though I was less than a valuable member of a team. I even remember last summer at Victory Gardens when I introduced myself to someone as “The Intern” and he immediately said “No you’re not ‘the intern’, you’re Alyssa.” I greatly appreciated it, and I appreciate the way Kemper treats me as well.

Kemper has been great about not making me “the intern”. I’ve never gotten coffee, and I’ve always felt respected. I think I can attribute this to the fact that I work with some really great people. However, I’m now working hard to be more than just an intern, and I think I can accomplish this.

Alyssa

Kemper Conference: The End

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Knox Kempers with Faculty Advisor John Spittell and Foundation Directors Dr. Ryan LaHurd and E.B. Smith.

Last week was my final Kemper Conference as an active scholar. Of course, it hurt to say goodbye. Kemper has meant so much to me over the past three years, and I’m eternally grateful for the amount of interest they have taken in my personal and professional development. As I have said on numerous occasions to Dr. LaHurd, the president of the foundation, Kemper has given me a confidence in myself that I never knew I had. While I’m facing the final year of school with the pervasive liberal arts question of “what am I going to do when I graduate?!”, I’m overwhelmed at the number of possible options as opposed to the lack of them. There are so many wonderful opportunities to pursue, it’s hard to pick just one. This is a good problem to have, and I feel lucky that I get to make this kind of decision.

The annual conference, which took place on August 6th and 7th, is a bite-size sample of everything that I value about the program. Rising-juniors give presentations about the work they did in non-profit organizations, while rising-seniors hold break-out sessions focused on their work in the for-profit sector. Rising-sophomores, the newbies, soak it all in and get thrown into a whirlwind of networking with strangers who may well soon become some of their closest friends. This buzz of “unusual maturity,” as Kemper puts it, is defined by a tone of professionalism of respect. The program is already unique, but this, to me, is what sets it apart-serious and intentional respect for one another.

As liberal arts students, we are constantly asked, “well, why’d you pick that major?” or “how is that going to help you get a job?” We are often forced to reduce our passions into digestible nuggets of perceived value, in an effort to get a nod of approval from whomever we are trying to validate our experience for. The Kemper program, and more specifically the conference, is a refreshing anecdote to this pervasive cultural attitude. At the Kemper conference, you are taken seriously. You are respected. Your interests and activities are not something that you try to streamline. They are an important part of why you are there, and everyone takes them seriously. They are something to build upon.

During the sophomore’s speeches this year, I looked out on the audience. Almost a quarter of the crowd was advisors and seasoned professionals, all listening intently and engaging with what the speakers had to say. As a Kemper Scholar, you are respected by respectable people, which gives you confidence. Much like liberal arts, it is a slow, accumulated experience. When I found out that I was chosen for the program my freshman year, I knew that it was a big deal. I knew that I had come for a liberal arts education, and I knew that to have the supplemental support of Kemper would be valuable. I had no idea just how important it would be. Indeed, the power of the two-liberal arts and Kemper-creates such an incredible positive feedback loop, that it gives me chills to think about what my peers in the program are going to accomplish in the years to come.

Which made it all the harder to say goodbye. I have a good feeling that this isn’t the last I will see of them, though.

Max

The Kemper Conference—Alec

The Kemper scholars’ conference ended over a week ago, yet I am still struggling to take everything in. Looking back through my notes, I see memorable phrases that stuck out to me, hard-earned advice from kempers that just finished their internships, and other information that I know will be vital to me as the year progresses and I begin working towards my internship for the summer. However, it is not the advice that comes to mind when I think back on the conference, it is the people. What struck me the most throughout my four days in Chicago were the Kemper scholars.

Approaching the conference, I think the best way to describe my feelings was apprehensive excitement. I was elated at the thought of meeting the other kempers (along with once again seeing my fellow Knox kempers) and to hear about internships that others had just finished. However, I could not deny that there was a feeling of nervousness. I did not truly know what would be expected of me at the conference, and I was worried about how I would get along with the other scholars. I am naturally an introvert, and most of the time I prefer to spend my nights alone or with a few friends rather than a group of twenty people. It takes me a while to warm up to others; with only a couple of days to meet the scholars I would be spending my next summer living together, I was hesitant to say the least.

I can honestly say that I have never bonded with a group so quickly. There is a certain personality that seems to permeate the kemper scholars. There are slight variations that make each kemper unique and interesting, but overall it takes a specific personality to be a kemper. Every scholar is motivated, highly intelligent, perseverant, and most of all willing to explore new opportunities; it is the flexibility and willingness to go out of one’s comfort zone that makes Kemper scholars stand out. I was able to get a sense of this from the other kempers at my school, but the conference really displayed the incredible strength that the kempers contain.

I am so grateful to be a Kemper scholar. This conference has shown me what it takes to be one, and I feel immensely more prepared for next summer’s internship. Listening to the presentations and participating in the workshops has given me insight into the business world that I know I would not have received otherwise. What I will take most from that week in Chicago, however, are the bonds with the other scholars. I feel like I have another family now, and the night at the Navy Pier will forever be one of the best nights of my life. I cannot wait to see my Kemper family again in June.

—Alec

Alec Freytag from Cincinnati, Ohio is a rising sophomore at Knox College. He is in his first year as a Kemper Scholar, having just been chosen for the program this past Spring. About this opportunity he said, “Kemper seemed like the program for me because not only do I get two full-summer internships — one in Chicago and one wherever I want — but it also allows me to be in a leadership position (and interact) with people who have similar interests.” Alec is tentatively planning to double major in history and psychology. 

Alec Freytag from Cincinnati, Ohio is a rising sophomore at Knox College. He is in his first year as a Kemper Scholar, having just been chosen for the program this past Spring. About this opportunity he said, “Kemper seemed like the program for me because not only do I get two full-summer internships — one in Chicago and one wherever I want — but it also allows me to be in a leadership position (and interact) with people who have similar interests.” Alec is tentatively planning to double major in history and psychology. 

Red Flags and an Orange Vest—Alyssa

I’m not yet done with my internship. In fact I have three weeks and a few days left before I head back to school… and I am very happy about it!
One opportunity that I was looking forward to was applying the knowledge I gathered at the conference to the rest of my internship. I knew that after a week I would feel energized and ready to come back to the job. I also told everyone at the conference how excited I was to work in claims.
Today I got the chance to shadow the Kemper Special Investigations Unit representative. The day took us all over town and eventually to an impound lot.
Before we entered the lot I was handed this orange vest.

I’ve already written about the desire of millennials to find work that extends beyond the 8 hours in a cubicle. Getting the chance to look at what SIU does gave me a good example of just that. When there is potential for insurance fraud in a claim, that’s when the claims adjuster calls in SIU. SIU then hunts for clues that can be considered “red flags.”

My favorite part of the day, besides the vest, was learning about those red flags. For example; when it comes to car fires you have to look at where it seemed to originate. Was it from under the hood or from the outside of the car? If there are parts missing from a car are the wires cleanly separated or do they appear to be ripped?

I have been told that marketing is the place to go if you work in insurance, but I think it really depends on the individual. I loved traveling with the marketing reps, but I think I could really take to claims.

Also I’d never seen a torched car before.

So while some might consider the conference to be an end to the internship process, I’m glad that I get the chance to keep going. And I’m excited to see what the rest of my week in claims has for me.

—Alyssa

Enjoying the company of a few fellow Kempers!
—Lindsey

Enjoying the company of a few fellow Kempers!

—Lindsey

Leaving the Bubble—Alyssa

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And just like that it’s over.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already gone to all three conferences and completed [almost] two summers of internships.

So once again I found myself in the meeting space of the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Chicago. Though the hotel had gone through some renovations it still felt familiar. A few of us ordered Giordanos and hung out in the lobby as we waited for the rest of our former roommates to arrive. We already knew the drill. Then the conference began.

 I was able to look around, see the sophomore Kempers and know exactly how they were feeling. I personally remember feeling subdued. You don’t know anyone very well and it might feel like you’re a bit lost. You’re in awe of the seniors and how comfortable they seem to be- though you realize that they’ve already done this. Regardless, you’re excited for the coming summer. And it’s the same with the juniors; you know what they’re going through. You’ve made friends, you’ve prepared this speech, and you’re ready for your turn to stand at that podium and give a presentation. Now that I’m finally a senior I felt like I had that confidence I always admired in the senior Kempers. I wanted to be that scholar who fearlessly goes up to people and talks to them, gives a speech in a smaller group, and generously imparts my wisdom (though I wouldn’t quite call it that) on the younger classes. I don’t know where my anxiety came from, the kind that existed at the past two conferences, but it was gone now.  

 I also got the chance to catch up with John Spittell, the Knox advisor for the Kemper Program. We both sensed a change. I could feel it from the last time we spoke. When I told him that I’d figured it out we had a good laugh. Of course I haven’t actually figured anything out, but I feel happy and stable. I’ve figured out how to be happy at this point in my life, and that’s what matters.

 The seniors always give presentations in smaller “breakout groups”. Going off of the whole theme of finding stability in the uncertain I was able to convince Dr. LaHurd to let me play improv games with my presentation group. I could have and probably should have been on the panel about finding internships, but I was able to squeeze a bit of information about my search process into my individual presentation. Though people were hesitant at first I was pleased to find that they willingly participated in the exercises. There were even a few wonderful performances…specifically one by a key player in the Kemper Foundation.

 One great speech given by a junior from XavierUniversity quoted The Lion King; “Everything the light touches will one day be yours.” Among other speeches, this really stuck out to me. When given the opportunity to live in Chicago on a stipend like the one Kemper gives you, you better act like Simba (with the exception of defiantly going to the elephant graveyard.) In thinking about it I’m not sure I did, which is disappointing. But I understand it now.

 I was struck by the way each junior kemper was gracefully accepting their own personality and flaunting it. It was hard to imagine that I had been up there a year earlier as I don’t think I did as good of a job. Given the place I was in last year I was very impressed. Though I’m usually the first person to flaunt my personal oddities I remember thinking that I was a bit too odd for the professional world. In order to be professional I found myself acting devoid of personality. I naturally seek out and create bubbles to live in because it’s what’s comfortable for me. My lack of willingness to be myself was part of the bubble I created for this last summer. And I still create bubbles, but now I’m just more comfortable with leaving temporarily. It makes me wish I could do that summer again, with the same people, knowing what I know now about myself, and being in the place I’m in now.

 And now it’s over.

 But it isn’t. Not really, at least. There’s always that feeling of never seeing certain people again. It’s the same feeling you get when you’re leaving camp after a summer of friendship bracelets and campfires. It’s the same feeling you get when you graduate high school. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it’s a lot easier to stay in touch with people than you think. One of my sisters graduated early from Knox and I’ve managed to see her twice this summer. I’m making plans to see one of my kemper friends in the fall. I’m at the point in my life where meeting up with people is possible, and it helps that there are many ways to stay in touch. It’s this kind of thought that has fueled the feeling that Kemper hasn’t really ended. Kemper will always be one of those bubbles I’ve shared and lived in.

 So I can say that it’s over, but it really isn’t. Though I probably wont attend the conference again and I probably wont see a lot of the Kempers who are still in the program, I still carry this mark. And though it means something different for everyone, I find it comforting. I’ve figured out what it means to me and I’m content with it.

 It’s not over. It’s never over. I’ll always be a Kemper Scholar. 

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—Alyssa

For more of Alyssa’s thoughts, check out Stability in Risks.

Everyone is a King—Lindsey

I just returned home from the Annual Kemper Conference the other night. It took a couple days of rest and relaxation to recover from three full days of my mind running on full speed. As I sit at the local coffee shop reflecting on my notes and all I learned and experienced in Chicago, two overlapping themes keep repeating themselves: fear and confidence.
It was as if the lesson was set up perfectly for me. The afternoon before I left for Chicago I biked to a nearby lake, listening to an intriguing talk on TED Radio on the ride. After arriving and finding a comfortable tree to rest my back on, I sat down to journal. These were the thoughts that ran from my pen to the paper:

“As I sit here my mind wanders to a quote of Sir Ken Robinson’s in the talk I just listened to, ‘If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.’ He speaks of a child’s creativity and claims the education system kills it. This is something I think the education system plays a part in, but as does society and our culture as a whole. Even in the Knox environment — a place where I’ve felt more comfortable and able to flourish than ever before — I feel intimidated by others at times, causing me to hold back thoughts, words, actions, or ideas and ‘play it safe.’ What really made me start thinking about this in depth today were my emails with Max regarding China and cross country. After reading his blogs and emails, I found myself questioning my wording and phrasing, looking up synonyms online, and questioning my own thoughts and writing abilities. I guess I was intimidated. I began to connect Sir Ken Robinson’s words with my situation. My eyes were opened to my self- doubt and more specifically, my nerves and uncertainty with the Kemper Conference. Yes, I don’t know what to expect and yes, I might be a little lost or out of place or ignorant on certain topics or at certain times in the conference, but isn’t immersing myself in such an experience how I learn, challenge myself, and grow as an individual?”

To answer my own rhetorical question, yes, that is how you learn and grow. Not only did my wonderful experiences at the 2013 Kemper Conference reinforce this answer, but as did my fellow Kempers’ presentations on their internship experiences. Multiple Kempers shared about how they had felt intimidated by others in their work place or feared making mistakes that would lead them to not live up to their expectations.
Each and every one of these presentations concluded with lessons encouraging confidence. One individual’s fear of perfection kept them from getting one of their major tasks done at all. This caused him to advise others to not “live so cautiously that you might not have lived at all.” Another Kemper stated, “We all have moments where we may think we’re not capable… but you have to remember — you are a Kemper Scholar for a reason!!”
During one of the workshops we were actually asked to write down a list of skills we felt we had. I surprised myself with my ability to form a pretty lengthy list and share it with confidence when the audience was asked to volunteer. The words of advice from the presentations, as well as the very bold, upbeat, self-assured individuals surrounding me, had inspired me.
As one wise Kemper proclaimed, “Everyone is a king!” I strongly believe that we all have GREAT things to bring to the table and our own fear should not be what stands in the way of us sharing them with others. If it wasn’t for the great courage and confidence of this year’s Kempers, I would have never heard their stories, learned from their experiences and perceptions, and walked away encouraged. This represents the power in pushing fear aside.
I am grateful for my experiences at this year’s Annual Kemper Conference and for the many more opportunities this blessing will allow me to have. And I am thankful for my realization that everyone is a king.

—Lindsey

My name is Lindsey Morgan. I’m going to be a sophomore at Knox College this year. I am majoring in Education and French; however more than ever before, I am inspired to learn as much as I can in all areas of study, in all aspects of life. I am absolutely ecstatic and beyond grateful to be able to call myself a Kemper Scholar and be a part of this amazing program.

My name is Lindsey Morgan. I’m going to be a sophomore at Knox College this year. I am majoring in Education and French; however more than ever before, I am inspired to learn as much as I can in all areas of study, in all aspects of life. I am absolutely ecstatic and beyond grateful to be able to call myself a Kemper Scholar and be a part of this amazing program.

Solitude—Alyssa

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Chicago, resting before my final Kemper Conference. Funny how time flies, isn’t it?

I spent the weekend in a cabin overlooking Donner lake. My very dear friends were kind enough to let me use it for some much needed quiet time and rest. I spent the time relaxing on the deck, smelling the fresh pine air, and eating smoked cheddar cheese from a market that we would always stop at on the way to the cabin.

But when I was asked about my weekend plans my answer seemed to confuse most people. “You’re going alone?” They didn’t seem to understand that that’s what I wanted, and what I sorely needed. It always confused me when people don’t understand that that’s how some people work. I suppose this is because it is what always made sense to me.

Solitude, I find, is rare nowadays. At least in the way I’ve been living. At school we’re constantly surrounded by friends and it’s hard to find a quiet moment to ourselves. Even last summer when I lived about four blocks away from this hotel I couldn’t quite find space or time for just myself. Not enough of it, anyway. I know I’ve written about this before, but we’re all too accessible. And I’ve found that when I want a bit of alone time it confuses people.

I’ve discovered that I’m an introvert, something that I should have realized since high school. I was one of those teenagers who stayed in on Saturday nights with a movie or a book or some knitting. I wasn’t into parties or whatever it is the my peers did. When I hung out with friends there were only a few of us, and that’s the way I liked it.

When I called my friends to ask about the wifi password (see, I can even get Internet up there, so it’s not like I’m completely inaccessible anyways) they asked if it felt like home sweet home.

It was great how many memories flooded back; playing rounds of cards and chess, snowball fights, jumping in the lake for the first time, all of it. Even some memories that hadn’t happened at the cabin flooded back. The scent of fresh pine made me think of the days I spent with these friends at camp, tie dyeing shirts and winning shuffleboard tournaments.

So yes, it did feel like home sweet home.

Saturday morning I woke up early and took a kayak out on the water. It was odd not having any plans. I didn’t feel rushed to travel across the lake or go anywhere at all. Nobody expected anything of me, and I could do what I wanted at my leisure. After kayaking I finished a book I had been reading and took a nap. I woke up to do nothing but sit on the deck and breathe. Because I’m so used to stimulation it was odd to comprehend at first. It might sound like a strange Californian kind of thing to say, but I was content just breathing and looking up at a pine tree.

I made my way into Truckee, eager to revisit the historic district.

I was able to visit stores I’d been to when I was younger, like the much loved Truckee Variety Store. It’s always filled with fun toys and trinkets. I was also able to I into newer, trendier stores that have since popped up. The street was crowded with families and couples, nobody seemed to really be alone like me. It was fine, and I didn’t think much of it.

Among my adventures in town I found a few odd items. Some not so odd, but some quite strange. There was a store that sold great paintings of bears doing everyday things. Unfortunately these were a bit out of my price range, otherwise I’d be the proud owner of “Bears playing poker.” But the store did have a great selection of hot sauce, and even real bear claws…?

Last summer I treated myself to seeing Aziz Ansari perform stand up at the Chicago theatre. It was a birthday present to myself, and even though nobody else wanted to come I went anyway. The two guys sitting next to me struck up a conversation before the show started. When they realized that I had shown up alone they seemed very confused. I mean, sure, it would have been fun to bring a date but I didn’t really think about that. I just wanted to see Aziz and laugh.

But there’s pressure placed on us to appear in public with other people. Being alone isn’t seen as a good thing. If you’re at a restaurant by yourself people will wonder why, or at least that’s what you think they’ll do.

But being alone is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as it’s comfortable.

When I was in London this past winter I heard the poet Warsan Shire read a few of her poems. I instantly fell in love with her and was so happy when she signed my copy of her book. (“To Alyssa, all aglow.”) Though I feel that all of her works say what I feel but cannot write, there was one quote that particularly seemed appropriate for the weekend.

“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.”

And while that’s not quite about being on your own for a few days in a cabin, I still find it applicable. My solitude is sweet and I cherish it. As I’m learning to take care of myself I understand more and more that it’s what I need. And by golly I’m not going to let anybody take that away from me.

So now after my relaxing weekend I’m all recharged and ready to go. Though its a bit bittersweet, this being my last conference, I’m ready for it to happen.

Alyssa