Alina Donahue, a 2018 Associate Leadership Collier (ALC) graduate, recently wrote an essay on the most valuable experience she's encountered to date. You guessed it—She wrote all about her ALC program experience. Check it out below:
"I have been fortunate enough to be a part and experience some amazing opportunities within our community. The experience I value the most has to be my time with Associate Leadership Collier (formerly known as GAIN).
When I first contemplated the idea about applying for Associate Leadership Collier (ALC), I didn't think I was ready. I heard about ALC and immediately thought, there is no way I will get accepted. It was very competitive to say the least.
Several weeks after applying, I received the best email ever, "Congratulations! You have been selected to participate in the Associate Leadership Collier, Class of 2018!" I was 27 years old and had just received my first position as a Director of a local hotel. I was extremely nervous. Every single person in my ALC class had one thing that I didn't have, a college degree. In a sense, I was secretly embarrassed about that, though I never showed it.
I'll never forget the first day of session. The meet and greet was scheduled inside the Naples Chamber building, there were about 40 of us. In alphabetical order, we all had to stand up and give a short introduction of ourselves with a fun fact. At the time, my last name was Perez and I was relieved because I had time to think about what I was going to say.
One by one, everyone stood up and did their introductions. You can tell some had done this before. In my class we had directors, lawyers, police officers and soon to be executives! I was petrified. When Amanda said my name, I stood up and I could feel my hands shaking. As I felt the blood rush to my face from nerves I introduced myself as "Alina Perez, Director of Sales for the Bayfront Inn 5th Avenue. I am currently the youngest Director of Sales in SWFL. And a fun fact about me is that I have a strong passion for Human Trafficking and have since joined one of The Shelter's NEXT GEN committee to help with this cause." When I finished those 3 sentences, I felt so relieved. And in that moment, I knew that I would fit right in.
During ALC, I learned so much about our community. Not only did I feel lucky but I also felt privileged to have this opportunity. Every single session was my favorite session. I never took the sessions for granted. Every week I went in with an open mind, ready to learn about our community and how I could help make Naples become that much stronger. I gained a confidence that I had yet to experience before. I became confident in my abilities as a professional and was no longer timid to take a seat at the table with our future community leaders, who also became friends.
I would say that Associate Leadership Collier was the starting line within my professional journey. Whether it's making a new partnership, asking local community leaders for guidance or giving back to our community, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been able to do this without my experience in ALC."
For more information on ALC, click here.