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Chicago Scholars Emerge Intern Blog: Work Focus

Meet The Emerge Intern – Work Project Debrief

The Chicago Scholars and Invest for Kids Emerge Summer Career and Leadership Program is in full swing! We’re celebrating this year’s class of interns by bringing you a weekly blog post focused on their experience – continuing on this week with a look what projects our interns are working on, and what they’re learning on the job.

This week, we’re featuring a blog post from Dianella Ruiz, whom is interning this summer with The Women’s Business Development Center, and is a Chicago Scholar from the Class of 2026. She is currently attending Boston University. Read on for her full post:

Interning at Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) so far this summer, has been an
enriching experience, particularly due to my involvement in a project centered around the
Berwyn Shops in Illinois. This initiative, supported by county grants, aims to empower small
businesses by providing them with a unique opportunity to test new ideas or products in a retail
environment. Being able to contribute to this project has been both exciting and educational,
offering me insights into the challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurship in a diverse

Growing up in Little Village, Chicago, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood, I have always
been surrounded by the vibrant energy of local businesses. Places like 26th Street have not
only served as economic hubs but also as cultural anchors within the community. Witnessing
their growth and success over the years has given me appreciation for the resilience and
innovation of small business owners.

At WBDC, where I am mainly working with the entrepreneurial services team, I have the
privilege of working closely with the Berwyn Shops project. This initiative stands out because it
not only supports local entrepreneurs but also provides them with essential resources and
mentorship to thrive. WBDC offers services designed to be inclusive and supportive, such as
emphasizing business planning, financial readiness, and market viability. Mandatory workshops
are held for business owners at the Berwyn shops to discuss these topics and more, like
insurance plans, technical support, marketing/accounting services and even basics like support
with building a business plan. Another plus to these workshops is that they come at no cost
which alleviates some of the financial barriers towards expanding a small business. I had the
pleasure of attending one of these workshops, specifically talking about insurance for small
businesses. This comprehensive support system not only equips participants with practical skills
but also builds a network of support among fellow entrepreneurs and mentors. It’s inspiring to
see how these elements come together to nurture creative ideas and foster sustainable

Berwyn, with its significant Latino/Hispanic demographic of 61%, holds a special place in my
heart due to childhood memories and the sense of community I felt there. Being able to engage
directly with business owners at the Berwyn Shops this summer has been a highlight of my
internship. As part of my work, I will be visiting the Berwyn shops to conduct interviews in order to gather success stories and record the economic impact that WBDC has fostered. I am excited
to hear their stories, learn about their journeys, and understand their challenges. These
conversations will reinforce my commitment to supporting local businesses and nurturing
economic growth in communities like Berwyn.

Looking ahead, I am certain my experience at WBDC and with the Berwyn Shops project will
play a crucial role in shaping my career aspirations. My current interest for community-driven
initiatives has only grown. The skills and knowledge gained during this internship will
undoubtedly influence my future endeavors, guiding me towards a career where I can continue
to make a positive impact. I will seek every opportunity to learn and engage with these projects,
taking away invaluable lessons and insights that can shape my perspective and enrich my
experience. As I continue my internship, I hope to not only gain experience, but also create
meaningful connections with those I work with. I look forward to combing my passion for
community development with practical skills in business support, leaving me excited about the
possibilities ahead.

Lastly, I am grateful to Chicago Scholars and their Emerge Program for this opportunity in being able to contribute to a meaningful organization and I look forward to continuing learning,
growing and advocating for others in the future.

Inspired by Dianella’s story? Head here to learn more about becoming a partner with us! And stay tuned for more blog posts from our Emerge Interns in the weeks to come!