- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 08 October 2014
Internships have become a major part of the college experience. Here at Monmouth, students cannot graduate unless they complete at least one of them and gain some experience working in their respective fields.
At first, I saw this as nothing more than an inconvenience; something else school-related I had to complete that would only eat up more of my free time. And it's not even going to pay, so what's the point? But after completing my first internship this summer, I see how valuable these experiences can be.
As a communication major, I initially thought about interning at a place like the Asbury Park Press or the Star Ledger. But after meeting with John Morano, a professor of communication and advisor to The Outlook, he suggested I look into working at the New Egypt Speedway as well. As a big race fan, this was the first place I applied.
I started on the night of one of the biggest races of the year; the night when the World of Outlaws 410 sprint car series came to town. My duties involved answering phones and putting wristbands on drivers and fans at the pit entrance.
Initially, I really couldn't see what this had to do with my major, but after performing these jobs on a more regular basis, I realized how much my communication skills had improved. To say that I'm quiet would be a serious understatement, but having to deal with the public on a regular basis really helped me become more outgoing; something that journalists and public relations professionals need to succeed.
Speaking of public relations, I had taken a few classes surrounding this field at Monmouth, even though my main focus has been on journalism. When I got to New Egypt Speedway, however, I really got a good taste of how important grassroots public relations campaigns can be.
The speedway is not the biggest operation, so these promotional events usually consisted of myself, the track's General Manager, Allyse Wolfinger, and a few others setting up a table with some giveaway prizes and track schedules with a few show cars off to the side.
Having a visible presence in the community and getting our name out there has had an effect because we saw attendance numbers steadily increase as the season progressed.
I also helped with several fundraisers at the speedway to benefit charities like the Wounded Warrior Project and Toys for Tots. These events not only showed me that the track cares about giving back, but they also helped boost attendance because a number of fans turned out to help donate to these worthy causes.
I was also given the opportunity to cover an event and do a write up about it.
So while I wasn't writing for a newspaper or magazine, I still had the opportunity to use what I had learned in school about journalism in a real life application. I was able to cover the event, compose a story under deadline and see the public's reaction when it was posted to both the track's website and Facebook page.
Working at New Egypt Speedway was a privilege. Not only did it afford me the opportunity to be involved in my favorite sport all summer long, but it also gave me the chance to learn a great deal about journalism and public relations.
An internship may seem like just another school requirement, but my time at New Egypt showed me that sometimes you can learn some extraordinary lessons in some seemingly ordinary places.