Riley for the Summer – An Intern Story

Hello! My name is Riley Richardson or, as some would call me, the new gal at Barker & Christol! I am a rising senior at the University of Tennessee Knoxville (Go Vols), but I proudly call Shelbyville, Tenn. home (and I have the accent to prove it). I have a deep admiration for sushi, good books, Amy Poehler, great movies and the outdoors. May 2016 I will graduate with a B.S. in Communications with a focus in Public Relations, but until then I am interning at Barker & Christol and learning from the greats.

I consider myself a tireless seeker of knowledge, especially for all things communication related. My passion for communication, public relations and marketing comes from its ability to make extraordinary things happen. Good communication will get people thinking, great communication can empower people to change the world, and that’s what I want to do.

Riley at UTAlongside my passion for communication is my passion for servant leadership. The idea is that to be an effective leader you must be a servant first. Focus is on the growth and well-being of people around you as you serve alongside them, and leadership is a natural result, not a title you’re given. In turn, this means that anyone can be a leader. As the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” To me, being a servant leader means recognizing my place alongside my fellow man, while being humbled in everyday endeavors. I embrace this servant leadership idea through what I like to call an “encourage the heart” leadership style. I function through optimism, enthusiasm, kindness and commitment to try and be not only an effective employee but also an efficient person.

My passions married on a mission trip to El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras. I travelled with an organization called Soles4Souls, a Nashville based not-for-profit dedicated to fighting poverty through the distribution of shoes and clothing. We spent our days in villages and orphanages washing feet, fitting shoes and making new friends. Considering that I do not speak Spanish, the communication barrier was very real. Yet, I still managed to effectively form bonds and adequately serve these people. The moment of truth for me came when an elderly man with disheveled, blistered feet came to my station for his new shoes. We exchanged no words, but we both said so much. As I washed his feet and fit his new shoes, the look of gratitude he gave me imprinted in my mind. We shared a hug and he was on his way. In this moment, I realized the impact that effective communication can have, even if it isn’t your typical verbal interaction. I also realized the ramifications of humble servant leadership. I said it before and I’ll say it again, communication can change the world (it continually changes mine.) This led me to ask, how can I do something like this forever? My passion for communication was born.

Everything good Soles4Souls does, from the distribution trips to collecting shoes, is all organized through strategic communication. They make a real, lasting, positive impact simply through effective exchange of ideas and words, and this is how I plan to continue to make my mark on this big place.

Working at B&C is giving me a chance to embrace all of these passions and characteristics and make a positive impact while doing it. I’m willing to jump in with clients and throw around ideas. I’m ready to learn the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry I’ve chosen to love. I’m prepared to be bold when it’s easier to be meek. I’m prepared to mess up but jump right back in it. I’m prepared to learn from my mistakes. I’m capable of leading a team to success (while having fun doing it.) I’m ready to step up and take the reigns. I’m apt to step back and be a follower if need be. I’m ready to use my “encourage the heart” leadership style to help the people around me reach their full potential. Most of all, I am excited to serve alongside the creative genius that is Barker & Christol.