How student employment prepared me for my internship

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Mary Ida Spradlin, School of Arts & Communication Student Employee

Throughout college thoughts like “where am I going to use this?” and “why is this important?” can come into a student’s mind. So much information is given about how to make a career out of a major and that can become overwhelming. I was given an opportunity to use all my knowledge from my studies and put them into practice. I am currently studying marketing to complete my career goal of becoming a ballroom event coordinator. This past summer I was given the opportunity to intern with a ballroom professional, Zeki, who was running their own dance competition and show. I helped Zeki contact participants, create flyers, go to hotels to set up meetings, offer suggestions, and set the stage for the show. A lot of people and time goes into running an event!

The biggest challenge for me was communicating with a large number of people who all had to understand what the vision for the event was. Not only did I have to communicate the vision, but I had to understand what Zeki’s vision was. There were many tasks that needed to be done in a short amount of time. That was why he needed a staff in order to get everything done. I currently work in the School of Arts and Communication office at Florida Tech under a work-study position that gave me some experience in communication already. Through working in a communications office, I have picked up on skills that helped me to communicate Zeki’s vision to others. For example, when he was taking care of a miscommunication with the hotel, I was able to help direct people in setting up for the event. This meant doing lights, put the floor down, and decorate. Knowing what else needed to be done while he was busy made sure that we were on schedule to finish before the event.

Zeki, some of his students, and I went to a big competition in Orlando. Zeki did over 500 entries and danced with seven students in the span of five days. He didn’t have a break during that time to figure out who and what event was coming up next. To help him out I made a cheat sheet. On it I listed every dancer, time, and event he would compete in for the whole week. Every student was color coordinated, breaks were included, and was in chronological order. I also helped his students prepare for events by doing their hair, make up, and know when they were to go on the floor to dance. I gained a lot of experience that I will later use in the business.

Through this experience I was able to build a network, learn new skills, and better communicate efficiently. I was able to see what I was studying for class in a real life situation. I used my accounting, communication, and creative skills. It was an experience that made it even clearer to me that I want to become an event coordinator.

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