Five ALEC Students Gain Real-World Experience through State Fair of Texas Internships

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By: Mollie Lastovica

Four agricultural communications and journalism students and one agricultural leadership and development student gained real-world experience in public relations, event coordination and social media marketing through internships with Cultivate Agency at the State Fair of Texas.

The AGCJ students, Caitlin Powers, senior, Caitlin McKenna, junior, Chelsea Phillips, senior, Erin Brown, junior, and ALED junior Molly Dutton each worked in Dallas for a week’s span throughout the month of October.

“I gained a greater understanding of the behind-the-scenes work it takes to relay information to the public about an event,” Powers, who worked during the youth market shows, said. “I was designated a species to cover as a beat for the week and was responsible for all the social media posts, pictures and stories for lambs that week.”

She applied for the internship to expand on experiences she gained interning for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo during the spring 2013 semester.

“It relates directly to what I want to do in the future, because I want to be a part of relaying the message of agriculture to the public,” Powers said. “Informing the public about stock shows through my internship allowed me to do that.”

Dutton, who assisted with planning and running the fair’s public speaking contest, learned the ins-and-outs of coordinating a large and reputable event.

“My internship was a very beneficial learning experience,” Dutton said. “I was able to gain valuable insight into the dealings of corporate sponsors and what it takes to put on a fair and speaking competition of that capacity.”

Although internships are not required for agricultural communications and journalism students, faculty and advisers encourage students to gain work experience.

“Internships are important because our degree focuses on practical application of specific skills,” said Tobin Redwine, academic adviser for agricultural communications and journalism. “Internships allow students to see the real-world application of what they learn in the classroom.”

Hosting interns is mutually beneficial to employers.

“During an event the size of the State Fair of Texas, with so many shows, contests and events happening simultaneously, it is paramount to have high quality interns,” said Blake Bedinger of Cultivate Agency. “Whether they are covering a show like a beat reporter, texting in results as they happen, or helping organize and run a contest with over 150 contestants and 30 judges, everything requires the utmost attention to detail and a strong work ethic.”

Students interested in completing internships for experience and/or course credit should visit with their adviser.

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