WIU intern in Arizona makes local news

For WIU senior Mandy Alexander (Roseville, IL)—a recreation, park and tourism administration major who, earlier this month, finished up an internship with the town of Gilbert, Arizona—the warm weather and experience would have likely been enough to make her internship experience a memorable one.

But, in late March, a story about her work for Gilbert was published in The Arizona Republic (and on the AZCentral.com website), which provided an added bonus. The story, “College intern revs up Gilbert tourism approach,” talks about her work with a city official there to “improve Gilbert’s regional visibility.”

WIU RPTA Major Mandy Alexander working at her internship in Gilbert, Arizona

Mandy is pictured here with Gilbert’s Parks and Recreation Manager Scott Anderson. Mandy’s work for her internship was featured in The Arizona Republic article, “College intern revs up Gilbert tourism approach.”

Just as her internship was ending, Mandy answered a few questions about how she was able to secure her internship and about how the experience benefited her.

Q). How did your internship in Gilbert come about?
Since I had family in Arizona, I knew I would have a place to stay. Plus, the warm weather in the spring, I knew, would be a huge bonus. I went about this internship by just simply calling as many Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Chamber of Commerces, or any tourism- related businesses in the Phoenix Metro area, and asked if they had any tourism internship positions available. Out of several phone calls and emails, Gilbert seemed to match with my goals the best. This internship lasted from January 13-April 5.

Q). What was the most unexpected experience of your internship?
The most unexpected experience I had during the internship was having to present our Tourism Strategic Plan in front of the town mayor, town manager, all of Gilbert’s Town Council members, manager of economic development, and other higher end positions held within the town.

Q). What about your favorite experience or experiences?
Wow, it is hard to just pick one favorite moment because there were SO many exciting things that happened! I will say I became a regular at Bergie’s Coffee Roast House, which allowed me to meet some extraordinary people and become very familiar with Gilbert’s downtown area. The staff I worked within the Gilbert Parks and Recreation Department were exceptionally wonderful and easy to work with and willing to help me. I am so lucky to come across such a great internship experience.

Q). What kinds of tasks/activities do you do on a daily basis in your internship?
Day one of my internship, I was given a list of 10 goals from my agency supervisor, Scott Anderson. He was hoping I could make headway on this before my internship was over. I successfully completed all but a couple of these goals and the few that haven’t been completed are long term and were not able to be determined before my internship ended. The ten goals in “Scott’s 18-month Tourism Plan” included:

  1. Implement tourism website and maintain operation
  2. Assist in development of mobile app for Heritage District
  3. Assist in development of app for Riparian Preserve
  4. Assist in producing and distributing small wonders advertising guide/map
  5. Meet with Mesa CVB staff and discuss Prop 302 Fund
  6. Purchase Smith Travel report for Gilbert, Arizona
  7. Visitors’ Center (establish a concept) (location-long term)
  8. Develop an “Experience Gilbert Brochure”
  9. Identify 3-5 top advertising opportunities and begin campaign
  10. FAM tour development

Q). How do you think your internship experience will help you in your future career endeavors?
During this internship, I was able to provide Gilbert with a solid tourism foundation and a tentative plan for the future. I have always been passionate about tourism, and this internship was able to give me that full-time experience in the industry that I love. I have learned a great deal about advertising and promotions, professional communication, money management, preparing for presentations and presenting the material, helping develop the brochures and critique websites. These are only some of the many skills I learned in my internship. I believe they set me up with a good solid foundation for future opportunities.

Q). What are you career plans once you graduate?
I am keeping all options open at this point, but I definitely plan on applying for a position within the Town of Gilbert. I do believe I would like to pursue a full time job in Arizona; however, I will seek different opportunities around home as well.

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