Going for Gold: COB Student Experiences "Dream Internship"
Working for the U.S. Olympics Committee (USOC) is the ultimate experience for any college student interested in a profession that combines business with sports. And that experience could only be heightened when it happens during an Olympic year.
But internships are very competitive and only a few college students actually get to work for the USOC. One student who made the cut is Andrea Hull, a junior business administration major from Eau Claire, WI, who is currently completing a semester-long internship at the U.S. Olympics Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For Hull, who is also a defender on the UW-Eau Claire Womenís Soccer team, the experience is a dream come true.
Gretchen Hutterli, assistant dean, contacted Hull to learn what it is like to be an intern at the U.S. Olympics Training Center.
BizWire: How did you find out about the USOC internship?
Hull: Iím passionate about sports, so I wanted to find something sports related in the business world. I made a list of areas that Iím interested in, and searched from there. I aimed high, listing companies/teams/organizations where I would work with people who have my ďdream jobĒ and found this internship online by visiting the USOC website and looking at their job postings.
BizWire: What was the interview process like, given that you were in Eau Claire and the position was in Colorado?
Hull: I had to go through a phone interview process with my immediate supervisor, who is the director of the Training Center. She only interviewed 3-5 people, so I knew I had to be well prepared.
BizWire: Why did you select this internship over other opportunities?
Hull: This is basically my dream internship; the USOC is a non-profit, sports-related business organization. Itís paid, and meals and housing were provided (for a $379 deduction from every paycheck). Since I grew up in the same city that Iím attending college, I also wanted to experience the culture/lifestyle of a different part of the country.
BizWire: What is a typical day like for you at the U.S. Olympic Training Center?
Hull: I usually have 1-3 meetings a day, and then I focus on planning events, and working on insurance cataloging. In December, we had a water pipe break in one of the resident athlete dorms (athletes that live on-site for longer than 6 months) and everyone had to be transferred to temporary housing. Iím in charge of cataloging and replacing damaged items for the insurance auditor to approve.
Iím planning three big events, and I plan weekly athlete events. My biggest project involves designing curriculum and a final project for 15 University of Alabama undergraduate and graduate students to work on when they come out here in May for a seminar. Iím also helping a business development department with some marketing projects.
During the Winter Olympic Games we had all TVís turned to the games, so it was fun being able to work while catching some races/games.
BizWire: That sounds exciting. But every job has fun . . . and not so fun aspects to it. What activity do you enjoy doing most? What is your least favorite part of your internship?
Hull: I very much enjoy getting to know people from all the different departments. As part of my internship, my supervisor allows me to take just about anyone that works here out to lunch to network and get to know how the business works. Their stories about how they got here and what they do are always interesting.
I really donít have many complaints about my internship, there are always going to be small projects that take time away from the major ones. Sometimes that frustrates me, but most of the time it doesnít bother me too much as I realize that every job is going to have that aspect in one form or another.
BizWire: What sort of on-the job feedback do you receive?
Hull: As part of the internship program here, I did a 30-day review with Glen, my supervisor. We talked about how things were going, what was coming up, and any questions and concerns I had. Glen has been very helpful with advice and answering questions day-to-day. Right now sheís in Vancouver for Paralympics for a month, leaving me with no direct supervision, though I have coworkers that I can go to with any questions I may have. While her communications lines are still open and weíll talk about any questions or problems that may come up, she trusts me to get everything done that I need to.
BizWire: Did any business classes in particular prepare you for your internship?
Hull: Two classes that I have been applying almost every day are BCOM 206 and BCOM 207. Communication, both verbally and written, are an extremely important part of everything that goes on here and how you say something is just about as important as what you say.
Since Iím working directly under the director of the training site, Management 340 has proven to be very beneficial in understand corporate culture and the different ways people can be motivated.
Marketing 330 has prepared me for the event planning and advertising as Iíve been working on various events, and learning how to network with others.
BizWire: How difficult was it going into a situation where you didnít know anyone or even the community you were relocating to?
Hull: Iím lucky to have relatives nearby, but I knew initially it was going to be a little difficult getting comfortable in a new setting with 30 other interns and a completely new organization. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you find a routine, itís a very worthwhile experience. After the first week or so you start to get to know people and become more comfortable in the new setting.
BizWire: How has this internship been beneficial to your individual development?
Hull: One of the biggest ways Iíve grown during this internship is through observation of my supervisor. As the director of the site, she is often contacted when things arenít going well. As a leader, she doesnít panic or get angry, she finds a way to make things right. Iíve been learning how to tailor a message to various parties that respond and react differently to the same message.
The other big benefit of this internship is that it has allowed me to evaluate what it really is I want in a career.
BizWire: Would you recommend an USOC internship to other students?
Hull: I would absolutely recommend this internship to other students. Itís very one-of-a-kind and there are always things going on. Everything you do has an impact on the organization or the athletes, and you know what you do matters.
Camps from across the country as well as across the world come through here, so working here gives you exposure to doing business nationally and internationally.
BizWire: In your opinion, are internships important in a student's career development? Should they be required?
Hull: I think it would be great if internships were required, mine has proved to be extremely important. I say this not just because it looks great on a resume, but also because it gives you real experience in a specific field. If you donít like that field, itís not too late to change directions; and if you do like it, youíve got that much more experience. Itís a lot harder to change directions after youíve received a degree and are out in the workforce, and it can be a lot easier finding an internship than a job.
Another valuable part of an internship is that you can network and establish connections that can help open doors for you to find jobs after graduation, and thatís priceless.
Getting an Internship with the USOC
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) offers internships for college students in broadcasting, Paralympics, journalism, marketing, sports medicine, sports administration, human resources, development, and strength and conditioning. Interns live at Olympic Training Centers, eat their meals at the Athletes' Dining Hall, and gain on-the-job experience and training. They are paid a small stipend for their work.
The USOC internship program follows the traditional college semester schedule—fall, winter/spring and summer. Internship sites are located in Colorado Springs, CO, Lake Placid, NY, and Chula Vista, CA. The Washington, DC office also offers a single internship opportunity. Positions are either with the USOC or its sport National Governing Bodies (i.e. Swimming, Triathlon, Volleyball, etc.).
To be eligible for the internship program, students must have completed at least two years of college before the start of the internship and be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an accredited United States college or university. Internships are competitive. To learn more, go to the USOC website at www.teamusa.org/jobs/usoc-internships.