By Katherine Bishop
The Virginia Wesleyan Athletic Department gives students the opportunity to complete an internship with the school in both fall and spring semesters for credit hours.
Director of Sports Information Cody Clifton is in charge of hiring, training and evaluating the interns. The positions for the internship vary from semester to semester. Assigning projects to interns varies as Clifton assigns them based on what the student is most interested in doing.
“The positions honestly vary from semester to semester, depending on who is interested in an internship and what their long-term goals are. I view the internship program more as a way for a student to get hands-on experience in a field they are interested in,” Clifton said. Students have the option of focusing on sports information/statistics, video editing, broadcasting, journalism and event management.
Many students in communication and business fields jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sports Information office.
“My role as an intern is pretty diverse. I mainly specialize in film and editing work, but I’m responsible for various tasks such as operating scoreboards and video boards, taking pictures, working webcasts and writing sports stories,” Chris Smith, senior and current athletic department intern, said.
Clifton said that interns get out what they put in. By working in the office and at games, an intern works about 10 hours a week on average, but some students have done around 20 hours a week. According to Clifton, the students who put in the extra hours are the ones who usually stay in the field after finishing the internship.
Over the last year, Clifton expanded the internship program to offer students the opportunity to work in a demanding, hands-on environment. Clifton said it is more competitive to find a job now than when he went to college, and that students are competing with other students from all over the country. They need to take away something from the experience that other students won’t have.
“Every student is more focused on what it takes to be marketable and that has forced the evolution of internships to the more tailored, individualized offerings you see now. This internship should be an experience that they have that others do not, so they can get a leg up when looking for jobs. If an intern is willing to put the work in, they will receive a lot out of it,” Clifton said.
Past interns attest to the benefit of the internship and Clifton.
“There are a lot of little differences that made it look more professional, and I think he [Clifton] brought that with him from Lynchburg because they were really tech savvy over there. So, he brought a lot of his experiences from there here, which is good for the school I think,” Theresa Yunger, senior and former athletic department intern, said.
Yunger interned in the fall and said she enjoyed filming games, such as men and women’s soccer games, the most out of all of her experiences. However, this was not all she did. Yunger was responsible for working the scoreboard, putting in athlete bios on the school website, filming the games, breaking down the footage and creating a highlight video for the school’s athletic department YouTube channel. It was crucial that she and other interns did everything in a timely manner when it came to players bios and game statistics as they were constantly changing and needed updating.
Smith said the position helped him develop the skills necessary for his future.
“This internship has helped me communicate on a professional level and has given me the ability to think on the fly because of the various roles I have had to learn as an intern,” Smith said.
The internship in the Sports Information Office is not paid, but students can get both credit hours and experience from interning with the Athletic Department. Clifton said it is difficult to get a job right after an internship at the school due to people staying in the profession and rarely leaving. Because of this, Clifton makes recommendations for interns.
“I have recommended interns for employment at other schools as either full-time interns or graduate assistants. That seems to be the best way for them to advance in the profession,” Clifton said.
“The sports industry takes a lot of work to break into, so once one of us makes it, we like to help those that follow in our footsteps. The ultimate goal is to have Virginia Wesleyan interns all over the landscape of sports information, putting the skills they learned to use,” Clifton said.
If a student would like to apply for the internship position, either email Clifton or stop by his office.