Junior reflects on “life-changing” internship during battle anniversary

Eliza Hunt '15 (left) stands atop the Lutheran Theological Seminary's cupola with Jessie Lininger, the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau's social media specialist, during her summer internship with the CVB.
Hunt (left) and a coworker atop the Seminary’s cupola

Not many people can say that they had a chance to chat it up with General Robert E. Lee, interact with members of the media from around the world, and stand on some of the most hallowed grounds in America, all in one ten-day period. Eliza Hunt ’15, an English major with a writing concentration, did all of that and more this summer during a media relations internship with the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

Now that the anniversary is over, and many visitors and media organizations have left town, we caught up with Hunt to learn more about her experiences during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Reflections on a summer 2013 media relations internship with the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau
Hunt with her official media badgeby Eliza Hunt ’15

When most people think of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, images of a bloody battle, dead soldiers strewn across the battlefield, and veterans donned in blue and gray shaking hands at the 50th anniversary likely come to mind.

For me, mention of the 150th makes me excited and anxious – my nerves riling all over again. My heart thumps, my mind races. The Gettysburg 150th was more than just a historical commemoration for me. It was a life-changing experience that offered an unmatched internship opportunity that taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

Fate smiled down on me this year when I found a marketing internship that interested me – working with the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, the agency that markets Gettysburg as a tourist destination.

I originally applied for a fall internship and didn’t get it, but thankfully, I was not discouraged. Carl Whitehill, the CVB’s media relations manager, who would eventually become my internship supervisor, encouraged me to reapply. I seized the opportunity, applied for a summer 2013 position, and was named their media relations intern.

At first, I was surprised how integral the CVB’s role was for the 150th – my boss, Carl, handled everything related to the media. And I mean, everything. I was going to be smack in the middle of one of the biggest media blitzes during one of the most notable anniversaries of one of the most important battles in American history. Whoa.

My first day included some pretty standard duties: reviewing visitor’s guides and brochures, becoming acquainted with the office, and getting to know some vital web resources.

And honestly, my second day wasn’t much more exciting.

But as the 150th heated up, and things got busier and busier, I was grateful for those first days that gave me a good knowledge base and helped me acquire solid professional skills. That’s the beauty of an internship – you get to experience everything from the run-of-the-mill to the life changing – and the run-of-the mill experiences are just as important when it comes time to apply for a job.

Hunt during a preview tour of the Seminary Ridge MuseumBut that’s not to say I didn’t experience some life-changing and unique days during my internship. One of my favorites was when a coworker and I traveled across town to the Gettysburg National Military Park’s Museum and Visitors Center to have the visitor experience. That was followed by a bus tour of the battlefield, and we ended the day by touring the new Seminary Ridge Museum, a month before its opening, even going up their cupola – the same one that was used as a lookout post during the battle. I felt like a kid in a candy shop! Not only was it a lot of fun, but I also learned a lot of things I hadn’t known, despite doing a lot of research on the battle to ready myself for the internship.

The ten-day commemorative period (June 28 to July 7, 2013) was certainly the high point and focus of my internship. From working 12-hour days to handling upset visitors, those ten days were pure craziness – a craziness that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I had the opportunity to work the re-enactments and manage the media in both the CVB’s registration room and the media housing office on Gettysburg College’s campus. I also had the chance to interact with journalists from media outlets all over the world, including the Associated Press, Civil War Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, National Public Radio, Agence France-Presse, the Gettysburg Times, and more. I also had good conversations with both Generals Lee and Meade – or at least their contemporary counterparts.

I was repeatedly put into stressful and time-sensitive situations, and had to keep my cool and respond quickly. While it was not all fun-and-games, my amazingly supportive coworkers helped me to learn a lot.

I got to experience some great times and some trying times, but that’s what made the experience worthwhile. I gained first-hand experience and knowledge; made amazing connections with individuals from around the world, and to boost my confidence, even got some compliments along the way! My internship as a media relations intern for the Gettysburg CVB was the perfect gateway to making my career dreams a reality – and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Check out the College's Center for Career Development (CCD) for more information on internships and career opportunities. The CCD has worked with Gettysburg alumni, parents, and friends to create more than 2,700 career opportunities for students over the last three years as part of the Career Connector Challenge, an intensive five-year campaign which aimed to create 1,832 new career-related opportunities for students.

150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg: Highlights and photos

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college, which enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students, is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Fri, 19 Jul 2013

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