Dancing the Macarena with a giant squirrel named Nutzy on top of a dugout wasn’t exactly what Kayla Crawford had in mind when she signed up for her summer internship.
Nevertheless, it turned out to be the best part of the University of Mary Washington senior’s summer as she interned with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a minor league baseball team.
Crawford, along with 30 other interns from throughout the region, learned about marketing, sales techniques, customer relations and how to interact with coworkers and supervisors, all while having a great time.
“It’s a really fun environment, very lively, a lot of people,” said the business major. “I like being interactive with people and I like being on the field; you feel special and important. You’re in charge of creating that fun.”
Crawford is among more than 100 UMW students who completed internships for credit this summer for organizations ranging from Mary Washington Healthcare to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. Each year, more than 400 UMW students participate in internships.
These real-world experiences give students an edge in the job market after graduation, according to Kelly Graham, director of the UMW Office of Academic and Career Services.
“Internships, when done correctly, allow students to apply classroom concepts and develop important workplace skills,” said Graham. “Hands-on projects overseen by a supervisor or mentor can build both technical and transferable skills. Interns also learn about the realities of a career field and begin to develop a network of professional contacts, key in today’s competitive market.”
Crawford routinely arrived at the stadium at 4:30 p.m. to prepare for a 7 p.m. game. After checking in with her supervisor, she spread out the red carpet for guests and set up games for kids.
At game time, she always had a different task, but her favorite job was getting on the dugout between innings and dancing the Macarena and the cha-cha with the Flying Squirrels mascot, Nutzy, to entertain the fans.
She also enjoyed selling tennis balls for a game called Launch-A-Ball.
“For Launch-A-Ball, you have to have a sales pitch ready. You have to have it down,” said Crawford. “You have to be able to handle rejection, not take it personally and keep going.”
Crawford’s experience helped her to learn what it would be like to work on the business side of sports, an area she’s always been interested in pursuing as a career.
“It is definitely worth it to do an internship, whether it is paid or unpaid, because you will gain experience that will make you marketable and valuable to employers in the future,” said Crawford.
After graduation, she plans to travel through Europe to continue gaining job experience through an organization called Workaway.info, where she’ll work at a variety of businesses in exchange for room and board.
Her first stop is Granada, Spain, where she will help a family harvesting olives.