Marcus Torres ’20 Nantucket Bike Tours – Six weeks ago, I disembarked the Hy-line speed ferry having finally arrived to the island of Nantucket. After grabbing my bags from the ferry, I made my way down the dock to find Jason Bridges ’98 and Waleed (Weedy) Elrefai ’20 patiently waiting for my arrival. What’s the first thing Jason ’98 says?: “Look around and take in everything you’re seeing because these next 10 weeks are going to fly by.” As I sit here at the Handlebar café six weeks later while writing this blog I realize he couldn’t have been more right.
As I sought out internship opportunities this past spring semester, I knew I wanted to gain experience that would be applicable and beneficial to all aspects of my life, both personal and professional. I wanted an experience that would mold me into the leader I hope to be. Interning at Nantucket Bike Tours (NBT) has done just that. This internship has been far from typical. As for all internships, if one hopes to gain any kind of experience they must “buy in.” However, this “buy in” is amped up to the next level here at Nantucket Bike Tours. Both Jason ’98 and Courtney Bridges expect the most from Waleed ’20 and I, and not only do they have high expectations, but they devote all of their time to helping us exceed these expectations. For that alone, I have been super thankful.
What is it like interning for Nantucket Bike Tours? We like to refer to this internship as “awareness boot camp.” From the moment we wake up (5:30am-6) to the moment we go to bed (10pm), our social awareness must always be “on” and our leadership must set in. Whether we’re walking down the sidewalk, eating breakfast at the Bridges’ home, or giving a tour to a 15-person group, we must be willing to engage others, smile and keep a friendly and genuine persona. The bike tours serve as a vehicle that allow us to improve upon our emotional intelligence, people skills and small business acumen. Each and every day we engage in new conversation, meet and connect with new people, and become interested in others. It’s easier said than done. This brings me to the first and most valuable lesson I’ve learned up to this point: the power, value, and importance of people and relationships. As humans, we naturally seek interactions with others, however, more often than not, we tend not to engage others. After only six weeks of this internship, I sit back now and think, “how could I have been so stubborn as to not connect with and see the value in people like I do now?” There were definitely missed opportunities in the past, but thankfully, there will be tons more in the future.
What’s a typical day like in the life of NBT interns?: tour preparation in the morning (bike logistics, calling customers, etc.), engaging customers at the Handlebar café while drinking a morning coffee, analyzing the body language of group members on a tour in order to adapt to their interests and debriefing about the day’s victories and challenges with Jason and Courtney at dinner. This occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As I mentioned earlier, we’re always “on.”
Prior to embarking on this Nantucket journey, I had also hoped to become more confident in social and larger group settings. After six weeks of giving tours to 15+ people, attending community fundraisers and engaging in other activities which require public speaking involvement on my part, this goal of mine has become attainable. There is still a ton of work to be done, but with people like Jason and Courtney who care about our personal development and think so highly of us, it will be much easier getting to where I want to be. With hopes of working in the International Business field, this internship has provided me with the foundational knowledge of what it is like to run and manage a business; from sales to marketing to customer service, this business knowledge of mine is all coming into fruition.