When asking peers where they would like to intern or work, many don’t hesitate to say somewhere far from their hometown. Let’s be honest - there is a point where many of us want to flee without ever looking back.
“There is nothing to do here.” “I can’t stand the people there.”
Sound familiar? I know those words came out of my mouth a few times.
As a freshman with minimal experience, I didn’t have my expectations set very high when the time came to start looking for an internship. I decided to stay in my hometown and go for a small company because I thought it would be “easy”. Boy, was I wrong! My summer spent at the Mansfield/Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau was one one of the most influential experiences of my life. Not only did I learn a ton about PR and the tourism industry, but I gained a completely new appreciation for the place that I have lived my entire life.
For those of you who don’t know, a convention and visitors bureau is a destination marketing organization. The CVB serves as a valuable resource to visitors who are unfamiliar with the area and also strives to bring as many tourists to the area by promoting local attractions. They also help with major planning, bus tours and brochure distribution.
The beauty of interning at the MRCVB was that I was able to wear so many different hats and was never confined to one job. One day, I was shuttling winners of the Verizon Indycar Series around the local sportscar course, and the next I was being turned into a zombie by a Hollywood makeup artist in order to blog about an upcoming haunted attraction.
Since this is a small business, I was given so much creative freedom and trust when tackling major projects, including applying the CVB for a series of statewide awards, writing numerous press releases and developing widespread email blasts. Another perk of working with the CVB was that I had the opportunity to experience many different industries within tourism. Whether it was food, wine, entertainment, the paranormal or outdoor pursuits, there was never a dull moment.
One of the main attractions in Mansfield that I worked with was the Shawshank Trail. In 1994, the Hollywood film, The Shawshank Redemption featuring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, was filmed in Mansfield with the most recognized site being the Ohio State Reformatory. Today, people from all over the world still visit Mansfield to relive their favorite scenes of the movie, so the CVB compiled a series of filming sites called “The Shawshank Trail.” Throughout the summer, I helped promote the trail and frequently answered tourist questions about the sites and the movie itself. I was truly blown away by the amount of people who still love the movie. At this point, you could say that I’m a “Shawshank expert.”
The moral of this story is to never underestimate the power of that “small internship” in your “small town”. You will learn so much and have a great time in the process. After this summer, I no longer feel the dire urge to move as far away from Mansfield as possible. My eyes have been opened to the truly amazing town that I overlooked my whole life.
If you ever want to learn more about Mansfield or have some urge to discuss The Shawshank Redemption, I’m your girl. Most importantly, if you would like to apply for this internship, please don’t hesitate to reach out!