ECU student Kaitlyn Tillery is enjoying a summer internship at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. (Contributed photo)

ECU Interns Ride Sour Economy to New Places

ECU News Services

Every day, Kaitlyn Tillery wakes up in a world of skyscrapers, Yankees baseball and Broadway.

The senior communications student at East Carolina University is spending her summer as an intern at Madison Square Garden.

It is a vastly different landscape than she is used to in Greenville or in her hometown of Wake Forest.

“Last weekend I went to brunch on a boat and then a Yankees game. Tomorrow, I’m going to a Broadway show,” she said. “This weekend there will be a flea market in Hell’s kitchen.”

Tillery is one of a growing number of ECU students landing high-profile summer internships where they gain experience in their field of study.

Economy opens doors

Lee Brown, assistant director of career services for the College of Business has noticed the increase in ECU student internships and credits them in part to recent budget cuts within companies.

“Companies over the past few years have seen decreased budget dollars for hiring full time employees, therefore, they can use internships as a low risk with a relatively low dollar allocation to assess possible future employees,” Brown said.

Mandy Goynes, an ECU student interning in Ohio, begins the base coat of paint for the portals on the set of "Bye, Bye Birdie." She is working for the Findlay Summerstock Theatre Program. (Contributed photo)
Increasingly, it means students such as Tillery now get their chance in some prestigious places.

At Madison Square Garden’s public relations department she monitors press, pitches stories to the media about upcoming events, interviews players for team segments, creates and distributes media releases and even helped produce MSG’s new Action Sports division.

“There are just some things you can’t learn in the classroom and internships provide that training, often with help from veterans in your field,” Tillery said.

Living in New York City is an advantage all on its own, she said. Tillery is spending her summer in the New York University dorms in East Village and tries new restaurants and explores different areas of the city every weekend.

Becoming professionals

Closer to home, senior Jalisa Trotter of Greenville is working toward her public health studies degree. Trotter is completing an internship with DSM Pharmaceuticals in Greenville.

Her days are filled with research on wellness initiatives and programs. One day was spent at a Chamber of Commerce meeting where she learned that DSM’s wellness center serves as a model for other companies.

Rose Haddock, the internship coordinator for the Department of Health Education and Promotion, works with students like Trotter to help them get as much out of their internship as they can.

An internship provides students with a setting in which to put the last few years of hard earned knowledge into action, said Haddock.

It also provides students with the opportunity to become more professional.

“They learn that they have to be punctual, dress professionally, be able to work as both a team member and independently, and ask questions — to be ready to learn and act,” she said.

Mandy Goynes, a rising senior from San Antonio, had to learn quickly to work six to seven days a week and up to 13 hours a day.

She’s interning at the University of Findlay’s Summerstock Theatre Program in Findlay, Ohio, after attending the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

Goynes is studying theatre arts design and production with a double concentration in scenic design and scenic carpentry.

Christiane Cordero, a student in communication at ECU, has an internship near her hometown, working for a Los Angeles radio station. (Contributed photo)
Building contacts and networking will help Goynes land future opportunities, she said. “You never know who you could meet, and if you make a good impression with the right people, it could mean a job down the road.”

Christopher Beanland, of Cary, is interning at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Group in his hometown. Beanland, a financial services major, wants to be a financial advisor.

He hopes his summer at Merrill Lynch will make his resume stand out. “A college degree can only take you so far,” said Beanland. “Experience is what employers are looking for.”

A key tool for job hunting

Crystal Furr, a senior from Concord, understands the importance of having internships in today’s economy. “If you work hard enough, it can almost guarantee you a job offer,” she said.

Furr, a graphic design student, is interning with Burke Communications in Charlotte, and landed the internship after contacting numerous companies by phone and email. One thing Furr has learned as an intern is how fast paced a work environment is, she said.

Communication student Christiane Cordero landed an internship in her home state. Cordero, a junior and native of Valencia, Calif. works in Los Angeles for 102.7 KIIS and 98.7 KYSR.  

Cordero helps load and edit audio for the morning music show, blogs for the station, connects with the station’s audience through Twitter and works with contest winners, she said.

Working for a radio station has helped her sift through the options she has as a broadcast journalism major. “The last thing you want is to graduate and get a job only to figure out that it’s not for you,” said Cordero.