Auburn students, fresh graduates learning on the job through impactful summer internships

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While summer is a time of leisure for many, a number of Auburn University students and recent graduates spend their time gaining crucial experience through summer internships.

The on-the-job training they receive through these opportunities not only gives them quality experience they can build on, but could also serve as a stepping stone to long and successful careers. Auburn students take advantage of the summer months to pursue a variety of passions and take on a variety of roles in companies and offices across the country.

Three of those Tigers — Tyler Ward, Sydney McCurley and Angel Cagle — are hard at work in Washington, DC, Montana and Florida, respectively, this summer as they gain valuable experience and represent their college well.

Make a difference in DC

Ward’s innate desire to help others and make a difference fueled his passions on the Plains while pursuing his education and shaping his experiences at Auburn.

From his time as a Student Government Association, or SGA, Senator for the College of Liberal Arts, or as the SGA’s Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Ward has worked to broaden the representation of groups marginalized on campus during his time in the plains. Ward — who graduated with a political science degree this spring — has also served as executive vice president of the Black Student Union and assistant vice president of media operations for the SGA.

He has now embarked on a trip to Washington, DC, where he is interning for Representative Terri Sewell, which represents the 7th district of Alabama. Ward learned about the internship opportunity through Auburn journalism adviser Letitia Gulley-Smith.

“It was over time that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after graduation, so it came at the right time,” Ward said.

Sewell’s commitment to improving the franchise of all citizens struck a chord with Ward and is a big part of what made him want to work in his office.

“Civil rights and suffrage issues were huge for me and instrumental in why I wanted to go into politics in general,” Ward said. “Rep. Sewell passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2021, and I thought it was not only a great way to commemorate a leader I admired so much for loving John Lewis, but also expressed a lot of the same things how I felt when it comes to the right to vote. She is important in my district, and it was great to see all the work she has done and put it into action for educational resources.”

Ward learns all facets of working in a major political office and enjoys the chance to experience a wide range of duties and responsibilities.

“They really divide us into different phases in the office, and we will do things with speech writing, press releases, a little towards the administrative side to answer phones and write constituent letters and even a little towards the legislative side. in policy research, understanding how a bill gets to the ground and who can co-sponsor different things,” said Ward, who has traveled to Washington, DC, in the past with a civil engagement class. “So looking around to see what areas speak to us the most and then applying that to the rest of our internship in specific areas. It’s just really, really, really cool.

The experience Ward is gaining in the nation’s capital this summer will be instrumental, he says, in guiding the next few years of his academic and professional life.

“It’s a great launch pad,” Ward said. “Even though I don’t specifically want to do this job and work on the Hill, it will give me the opportunity to do other things as well, which is cool to see. I think I want to go back to school at some point and get more education under my belt. This job really helps me understand what kind of masters or doctorate I might want to pursue and gives me a way to get an up close look at the different jobs I’ve heard of to help me see if they’re something that I would like or take advantage.

Ward feels that his Auburn experience in student government and with other organizations, coupled with the education he received as a political scientist, gave him an excellent foundation to build upon.

“Liberal arts and polysciences really prepared me a lot, both from an educational perspective and the possibility of having experiences as a student, but also knowing the fundamentals of bills, the history and how things work,” Ward said. “Things like SGA and my extracurricular activities have really given me a good landscape of politics in general because learning how to cross the aisle and gather voter support are things that we have talked about a lot and that we all use. the days here. [in D.C.]. So it’s really cool to see the things we’ve learned [at Auburn] and what we took away from our experiences really has a huge, huge impact.

mountains of experience

McCurley, a senior from Dothan, Alabama, is majoring in hotel management, on the trail of event management. His internship at Rock Creek Ranch in Philipsburg, Montana, from May 15 to August 5.

McCurley discovered The Ranch at the annual hospitality career fair. This was the first time The Ranch had recruited students to Auburn. McCurley said Associate Professor David Martin encouraged her to consider The Ranch for an internship because he knew of its reputation.

McCurley also knew a bit about The Ranch herself, which likely gave her a head start in the interview process. The Ranch is a Castles Relay property, which means it is one of approximately 600 boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants around the world known for their luxury. McCurley’s internship last summer was at a Relais & Chateaux property.

“I felt this experience helped me get the job because I already knew the luxury standards of his properties,” she said. “I had two interviews for the position before receiving it. They appreciated my experience in events.

This journey also included being one of the hospitality management students responsible for planning and executing this year’s Host Gala, which was held in person in April for the first time in three years.

In Montana, McCurley has two roles: PM Server and Event Liaison.

At the Ranch, AM servers oversee breakfast and lunch, and PM servers handle dinner. As a PM server, McCurley works at the Granite Lodge serving multi-course meals and interacting with guests. The other role has her working on events at the property, including private dinners and the like.

The Granite Lodge is one of four places to stay at the Ranch. It features nine unique rooms, each adorned with iconic western themes. Its dinner menu features a different culinary tour of western Montana each night.

McCurley noted that The Ranch strives to provide personal experiences for its customers so servers like her are deliberately paired with the same people during their stay. This way, McCurley will know customers’ preferences and can provide them with a more unique experience.

“We are expected to provide high quality service at all times, regardless of our job,” McCurley said. “Events at the Ranch are executed to Forbes Five Star standards.”

The Forbes Five Star is an award that a hotel business can achieve by meeting the Forbes 900 standards in its day-to-day operation. It is renewed every year.

“A five-star rating makes this property very classy, ​​even as a ranch. In fact, it was the first five-star ranch in the country,” McCurley noted.

McCurley is certain that Auburn’s hospitality management program has prepared her for success in any internship. She said knowledge learned in the classroom is easily understood when it can be applied in the field. An example is the welcome gala.

“We really had to think about all aspects of this event, like the color palette and how to make it work. I can use that knowledge when asked about the decor of events here,” he said. she said, “I came prepared to learn and fulfill my roles at the Ranch.”

When McCurley returns to Auburn for the fall semester, it will be his last on the Plains. She will add The Ranch to her resume in hopes of landing a job in event management after graduating in December.

“I’m starting to work on events much more intimately than before,” she said. “An internship like this was an opportunity to apply what I learned in the classroom, creating a holistic hospitality industry education.

“I believe my experiences and upbringing in Auburn will help me find the right job for me. I would like to be the one planning the events, or at least making it happen.

In the woods

Cagle, a senior forestry student at the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, is spending her summer as an intern in Pace, Fla., with Resource Management Servicesor RMS, a global timber investment firm headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

The company is involved in all aspects of forestland investment, including forest management, timber marketing, environmental stewardship and wildlife management.

“I perform tasks such as transporting cruising wood and marking SMZs [streamside management zones]said Cagle, a member of the college’s Forest, Environment and Wildlife Leadership Academy. “I also coach RMS employees to learn more about their business and their day-to-day responsibilities.”

Cagle aligned the internship through the Forestry Club of Auburn, which provides students with interview opportunities and the chance to network with professionals in the field.

“This internship will establish a foundation of hands-on, real-world experience that will enhance my education at Auburn,” Cagle said. “My lessons gave me the knowledge I need for this internship. The on-the-job experience I gained during the college summer internship was especially invaluable.

Cagle, a native of Haleyville, Alabama, will graduate in the spring of 2023 and plans to work in land management.

About Donnie R. Losey

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