On-the-Job Experience, No Commute Required

By Robin Roger, October 2, 2020
Remote internships allow students to gain real-world experience.

Avi Zucker ’21 had an events internship with the New York Jets lined up for this summer, but when the pandemic hit, the business administration major said it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under him.

“I would have been working at the training camps and season ticket holder events, and I was very excited for that,” he said. “Then this spring I kept getting emails from the fan engagement and game presentation coordinator saying, ‘We don’t really know what’s going on and right now we don’t have any events.’”

Though COVID-19 put a pause on Zucker’s summer internship, this fall he’s getting a chance to intern remotely with Team Liquid, a leading professional esports organization. The opportunity is part of a course engineered by Annemarie Farrell, associate professor in the Department of Sport Management.

Zucker is one of many students across the college who have been able to secure prestigious remote internships, despite the challenges of the pandemic. And some say the opportunities are even better than they would have been able to experience in person.

A Sporting Chance

When Farrell heard that many of her students wouldn’t be able to complete their internships this summer, she worked with an alumnus to reimagine two of her courses — Sport Marketing and Sales and Advanced Sport Marketing in Sales — to give her students virtual internship experiences this fall.

Students in these courses had an opportunity to select a course track that works directly with the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and Team Liquid/Twitch, a powerhouse in the booming esports sector. Students in these classes will be working on sponsorship pitches for the league and opportunities for player endorsements. Chad DeLuca ’11, a former student of Farrell’s, is director of sponsorship at Twitch, which livestreams the NWHL season.

Sophia Israel ’21, a business administration major and member of the golf team, said she was supposed to intern with Lehigh University Athletics over the summer, helping with camps, ticketing and marketing, but when the camps were all shut down, she assisted remotely. She also had an internship lined up with Cornell University Athletics, where she had interned last fall. But for now, the Ivy League has suspended fall athletics.

Now, Israel is working with her classmates to develop a marketing plan for Team Liquid/Twitch that explores opportunities for brand awareness, fan engagement and positioning within the industry.

“Who knows if we would have had this opportunity outside of this semester. With everything going on with the coronavirus, I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Sophia Israel ’21, a business administration major

“Who knows if we would have had this opportunity outside of this semester,” Israel said.  “With everything going on with the coronavirus, I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Sam Barton ’21, a business administration major, will bring his experience from this past summer interning as an inside sales representative with the Binghamton Devils, a minor league hockey team.

“It’s really cool to have an opportunity like this, especially with a lot of people over the summer having their internships canceled,” he said. “It’s definitely been challenging, because it’s a real-world application, so we’re representing not only Ithaca, but also Chad and Annemarie. It’s a great resume-builder and will be great to talk about in interviews.”

“Since we went online, I have strived to view virtual instruction as an opportunity, a challenge, instead of just a barrier. It has been a lot of work, but it has helped me grow as a teacher.” 

Annemarie Farrell, associate professor in the Department of Sport Management

Nicholas Manske ’21, a business administration major, agreed.

“I’m anticipating this internship is going to be a lot of work,” he said. “This gives us another aspect of the industry to talk about and learn and have real-life experience. It’s almost exactly what I want to do for a career.”

Farrell said it took an enormous amount of preparation to set up these internship experiences and explore deeply what a course could look like if it were structured around experiential learning.

“Since we went online, I have strived to view virtual instruction as an opportunity, a challenge, instead of just a barrier,” she said. “It has been a lot of work, but it has helped me grow as a teacher.”  

Carlos Abreu ’22

Carlos Abreu ’22, a history major and politics minor, landed two prestigious internships this summer, one at Cornell Law School and one at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, an interdisciplinary research unit of the City University of New York. While living in Ithaca, he worked remotely for both internships for three months.

student headshot

     Carlos Abreu ’22, history major and politics minor

Abreu worked as a research assistant for John H. Blume, director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project. As part of his internship, Abreu worked with lawyers at Justice 360, a nonprofit organization in South Carolina that works to promote fairness in the criminal justice system for those facing the death penalty. He created a comprehensive database of cases where defendants were indicted with murder and helped the lawyers challenge convictions that may have been due to ineffective counsel or resulted in excessive sentencing.

Abreu also worked directly with Blume researching the psychological effects of solitary confinement on juveniles. He found studies from the American Civil Liberties Union and academic and law journals.

 “At first, I was struggling to find internships, and I reached out to many professors at Cornell Law to ask if they were taking interns,” he said. “A lot of them turned me away because they assumed that I didn’t have the legal research skills to work with them.”

But Abreu had interned at law firms previously, where he had gained experience doing legal research. Professor Jonathan Ablard put him in touch with a graduate of Cornell Law, who reached out to Blume on his behalf.

Abreu applied for the internship with the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, where he designed an independent studies program around the dictator Rafael Trujillo. He led a project with two high school interns who compiled an exhibit of all the acts of resistance during Trujillo’s regime and how the activists were able to oust him from office after 30 years. Abreu presented the findings to the director of the program in early September.

Maya Rodgers ’20

Maya Rodgers ’20, a communication management and design (CMD) major and a graphic design minor, had an internship lined up for the summer, but it was canceled in the spring due to COVID-19. She found herself scrambling, but was actually able to pitch a tailor-made internship position to Poster House, a nonprofit museum dedicated to historical and contemporary posters in New York City.

“They’re a poster museum, I’m a graphic designer. It was a perfect match,” she says. “I knew they didn’t need help with graphic design, so I pitched a combination of things I was interested in.”

student headshot

(Photo submitted)

Rodgers worked on a number of projects for the museum, including conducting market research targeting college students through programming that was already established. She says she took everything she’s learned in the CMD program and bundled it together. Even a research and statistics class she took as a sophomore proved useful when designing and implementing a survey.

And she ended up using her graphic design skills as well, designing a series of COVID-related posters that are currently hanging in the Poster House museum store. Her designs reflect the current exhibition of Swiss graphic design at the museum, featuring work by Joseph Muller Brockman and Armin Hoffmin. Rodgers' designs are an homage to Hoffman's famous Giselle poster. 

Rodgers did all this work remotely, while living in Ithaca.

“Working remotely opened up a lot of opportunities,” she said. “Not only did I get a ton of great hands-on experience in my field, I got a ton of professional development. Every week they would have guest speakers talk to us from museums across the country. I wouldn’t have necessarily had that chance if I had been in New York.”

Rodgers is finishing her last semester at Ithaca College, but she’s already been offered a position at the Museum of the Earth as the integrated marketing manager – and she started full-time earlier this week.

Career Services Launches Micro-Internship Program

IC's Office of Career Services also launched a micro-internship program this summer, to help students get real-world experience and mentorship from IC alumni.