Esther Calderon's pride for her field, her community and her city led her to become an important piece of one of Indianapolis' largest, most popular events.
The 2019 tourism, conventions and event management graduate has interned for Indy Pride since January. She applied for the behind-the-scenes position knowing full well that the work would extend beyond IUPUI's May 10 commencement, in which she walked.
"For a lot of people, Pride is just this big party in the middle of the summer for everyone," said Calderon, a native of Centerville, Indiana. "For me, since I'm involved in LGBTQ+ activities both on campus and off, I really wanted to give back."
Indy Pride starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8, in downtown Indianapolis. A parade along Massachusetts Avenue will lead to festivities at Military Park from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Advance tickets are $5 through June 7.
Calderon attended her first Indy Pride as an IUPUI sophomore, and she has seen the event grow dramatically since that time. Indy Pride drew more than 100,000 in 2018, and the 2019 event has taken months of planning. Calderon has been a big part of the planning and will be on hand Saturday managing the Geico Family Fun Zone in Military Park.
Fresh from a job interview, Calderon met with Inside IUPUI to talk about her Pride-ful internship experience and how it has influenced her career trajectory.
Q: After attending Indy Pride events the last few years, why did you want to intern for it?
Esther Calderon: When I first got into my program, I wanted to work big events, especially outdoor events. It worked out perfectly. I got exactly the kind of experience I wanted.
Q: How does Indy Pride compare now to the first one you attended the summer after your freshman year?
EC: In my first year going, it was from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It was really nice, and it was really chill. Now, it's a whole-day event until 11 at night -- and even then, it's still going. It's a huge event.
It's just a really great day of community and togetherness.
Q: What kind of work are you doing now, as Indy Pride is only days away?
EC: At this point, it's just calling up vendors -- making sure everyone has the materials they need and making sure everything goes off without a hitch. It's nerve-wracking, but I'm really excited.
Earlier in the internship, it was data entry, mailing. I was in charge of getting some of our vendors and some of our entertainment for the Family Fun Zone.
Q: What was it like to still be working on your internship during commencement week?
EC: It was very stressful around commencement time. I was graduating and officially done with my internship for my school, but I wasn't done with the internship for myself and my integrity. I wanted to make sure my job was complete.
Q: What did you learn during this experience that will help you in your career?
EC: I learned that I could make a difference in my community and take part in a plethora of different jobs. I want to do things in hospitality and customer service. I've learned that for me, what's most important is helping others. I still want to do event planning in Indy for my volunteering or maybe as a side project.