During my internship with Independence Golf Club, I faced challenges with the inconsistency of my work schedule. Last summer, I worked a 9am-5pm job Monday to Friday and I hated every minute of it. This summer with Independence, I had a far different experience. Some weeks I work almost every day, but then the next week I might be asked to only come in two or three days. Some days I would work events that took a couple of hours, other days I would work events that kept me on my feet for 12 hours straight. I loved the lack of routine in the beginning of summer because that was when I was typically working most of my hours. However, when July rolled around my hours where getting cut back more and more each week. I was warned that July is the event coordinating team’s slowest month, but I never expected to be only working a couple days each week. Luckily with May and June alone I was able to knockout my 150 hours of unpaid work, but once July came I was supposed to start working for a small pay. I was frustrated when I realized I was starting to work for money right when Independence would need me the least.
This challenge had me thinking of my future career as an event coordinator. Would I really be willing to work most weekends and holidays while most of my friends/family members work the traditional Monday-Friday jobs? I have joked with Megan, my supervisor, several times that I feel like she never leaves her job. I can tell Megan loves working for Independence and respects the place, so it seems as if she doesn’t mind work those extensive hours. Perhaps I would feel similar to Megan if I were to work full-time for a place I cared about. Still, this challenge in the inconsistency of scheduling has had me reevaluating my idea of potentially being an event planner.
Interning with Independence has been an incredible learning experience. I respect how every department (marketing, event coordinating, accounting, etc.) communicates with one another. Also Independence was awarded ‘friendliest golf club’ a couple years back and I believe the title is still fitting for the staff today.
Independence’s JMU, VA Tech, and Longwood interns enjoying the golf cart
Whether a person loves or hates her job depends greatly on the morale of the working environment. There were times I was frustrated working all weekend for no pay, but because of my high respect for my coworkers and bosses I was able to set aside my frustration. By doing this, I realized in my future career search I am going to make sure I am satisfied with the management staff and overall communication of the company. In the past I have worked for some terrible bosses that made going to work something I dreaded miserably (even if I got paid decently). With Independence, I realized it is worth it to find a job where your work ethic is appreciated and respected. I believe the people who are happiest in their careers are not necessarily the ones who are making the most money, but the ones who are surrounded by a positive environment on a daily basis.
The skills I had hoped to obtain throughout my internship with Independence were the ability to communicate professionally and the ability to handle a crisis. From the two, I believe I gained excellent practice in my professional communication skills. It is difficult sometimes to prove to an adult that you are credible and resourceful enough to answer/provide the information that he/she may need. However, by dressing professionally every day (even on days I was just setting up for events) I was able to hold myself to a higher standard that resulted in me gaining more respect from the guests and other staff. In addition, I was able to show my supervisor that she could trust in me to communicate to the host and guests of events, so they did not have to go to her with every question or issue.
The only skill I was never put in a situation to use was handling a crisis. In all actuality, this is a blessing because it means most events were executed smoothly. However, I know if I were to stay in event coordinating in the future, then eventually I will face an urgent issue that will require quick problem-solving. With small obstacles that needed to be resolved, I would watch how Megan would handle them. She did not panic, but simply figured out a way to fix the problem and did so quickly. More than likely one crisis is not going to be the same as the next, so it is difficult to fully prepare yourself. However, if I remember what Megan did by staying calm and acting quickly, then I will more than likely be able to handle most crisis situations.
During my internship, I had three goals I had hoped to reach by the end of the summer. The first one was to obtain tangible writing pieces that I will keep in my portfolio when applying for jobs after school. I completed this goal and now have a news release, welcome letter, email proposal, radio script, and many pictures of the events I helped set up/execute. My second goal was to look into the weekly concert series at Tavern 19 (the restaurant within the club). I created an email proposal for the owner and the marketing department to take a look over. One of the biggest issues I have with Independence’s marketing team is that they do not communicate to their public enough about how they are not a private club. I am unsure if my proposal for the concert series will be used next summer, but I put in my best effort. Finally, I wanted to plan an event by myself. Unfortunately, this goal was not reached because Megan did not allow the interns to do much more than shadow and assist in executing the events. If I could back in time, I would have let Megan know sooner this was a goal of mine and perhaps she would have been more likely to let me at least assist in planning an event for the upcoming fall/winter.
One of the benefits of my internship was having two supervisors; one was the event coordinator of right years (Megan) and the other who was the assistant coordinator of one year (Ryan). Sometimes my internship would feel more like a job than a learning experience, so on those days I would ask more questions, which would remind my bosses I was there to learn too. Other days, Megan and Ryan were extremely helpful in showing how to complete a banquet order and how they organize their schedule for upcoming events.
Having two supervisors at different points in their experience was beneficial as well. When I wanted to vent to about the industry or about Independence specifically, I talk to Ryan. Ryan was their intern last summer and this past December she was hired as their new assistant event coordinator. She was a great mentor to me because she remembers from recent experiences how it was to be an intern. On the flip side, Megan showed me taught me a lot through her years of experience. She was able to lead, which is something I don’t believe Ryan could handle quite yet. Both mentored me in different ways, but both were beneficial in it’s own way.
In the future, I would encourage Independence to hire fewer interns. I loved meeting and working with the other two interns and I would now consider them friends of mine. However, most days there was not enough work to do for the three of us. I feel it would be beneficial if there were one to two interns that were able to work closer with Megan. On the days Megan had her meetings, she would only let me attend if I was the only intern in for that day. This is because having an additional three people in the meeting would be rather excessive.
The second suggestion I would give Independence is to take in consideration the hours the intern needs to complete his or her requirements. Luckily, I was able to finish my 150 hours by the end of June because once July hit our hours were cut back tremendously. The other two girls I intern with, however, have struggled because their school requires them to have 300 and 400-hour internships.
Here is a look at some writing samples and pictures from my internship with Independence Golf Club
1. News release. Below is a news release highlighting the approval of a new wedding venue being built at Independence Golf Club. This news release was not sent out, however, because plans have not been approved. As part of our project, the owner Giff Breed wanted us to convince him on where he should spend this budget he had. Previous ideas have ranged from baseball fields to a zip line. I believe the company could benefit the most from having another wedding venue because the weddings they have every year bring in the majority of the club’s annual revenue. With only a couple weekends in ‘popular’ wedding months (typically the fall) it would be beneficial if two venues were provided, allowing two weddings to occur at once. This proposal was given to Giff as well as the partnership proposal with 96.5 The Planet.
2. Email proposal. At the beginning of the summer all three interns met with Giff Breed, the president/owner of Independence. He encouraged us to find a project that best fit our degree and that the club could benefit from using. Since I’m leaning more toward public relations than event coordinating, I decided to focus my project on growing the size of audiences for the restaurant’s summer concert series. This past summer with the concert series was the first time Tavern 19 has brought a profit to Independence. In my email below, I give a proposal to 96.5 The Planet’s advertisement manager to form a partnership between the two companies. Once approved from Giff, I plan to send this email out in the next few days.
3. Welcome letter. The welcome letter I wrote below is now used in both the overnight lodges offered at Independence. I laminated both copies as well as the menus from both Tavern 19 and Café Zata. This was the first writing task Megan had us do, which gave me practice in hospitality management.
4. Radio script. As I mentioned earlier, for my project I would want to create a partnership with 96.5 The Planet, which is a classic rock station in the local Richmond area. With The Planet’s promotion, I believe the concert series could be made even bigger next summer than it was this past. Below is a 30 second script I wrote that Independence could give their DJ as a suggestion of some items they want highlighted for the evening of the concert.
My internship was often more hands on than anything else. On days like the one shot in this short video, I would come in around noon for a 6 o’clock wedding and would leave around midnight. I liked to call the time of the video I shot the “calm before the storm” because it was right when we had everything perfect, from the table settings, the DJ, the lights, the food stocked in the kitchen, the open bars stocked in several locations, the florist had already come by, and for a moment everything was still and perfect. During the time of this video the ceremony was taking place outside. Usually Ryan, the assistant coordinator, would stand outside at the ceremony and communicate with us through her headset when the it was over. The moment the reception begins every staff member is incredibly busy until leaving time, hence the ‘storm’. I loved working weddings. Sure, it was busy and exhausting, but you got to be apart of someone’s special day (whether or not they remember you). This wedding in particular was the most beautiful and I happy to assist in such a successful event.