The Island Apprentice - Internships on Daniel Island
Interns help keep FCC Tourney on track
The engine driving the annual Family Circle Cup women’s tennis tournament is starting to rev.
Ten to 15 employees are the heart of the operation and their workload is getting heavier, according to public relations director Robin Reynolds. That’s why the arrival of five college interns at the Family Circle Tennis Center last month was so appreciated.
"They’re involved with every department, from charity ventures, corporate sponsorships and public relations to research and operations," Reynolds said. "This group will get a good taste of what it’s like to run a world-class tennis tournament. Unfortunately, they won’t be around to see the end result."
These students will complete their internships in December and be supplanted with a new group, who will be on board through the April 8-16 tournament.
"The January interns will be going full speed from January until April when this place is transformed into a little city," she said. "They’ll see the payoff for all the hard work that goes into this event."
Office manager Eleanor Adams, a former juniors tennis player from Connecticut, has been with the tournament for five years. She supervises the interns.
"Working at Family Circle Cup is a great opportunity," she said. "One thing that’s unique is that everything is in-house – our ticketing department, food and beverage concessions, hospitality services – everything happens right here, so they get broad experience."
Adams said she posts internship openings with every college in the U.S. and has built special relationships with universities that offer degrees in sports and entertainment management.
"Sports have become much more popular in this country with the advent of cable TV," she said. "Events are more visible and running them has evolved into big business."
Consider the 34-year-old Family Circle Cup. From its relatively humble beginnings on Hilton Head, S.C., it has grown into a multi-million dollar event that draws thousands of fans to its tennis complex on Daniel Island, which opened in 2001.
An internship with a prestigious event such as Family Circle Cup can help launch these students into promising careers, Adams said. In fact, three former interns now work on the Family Circle Cup staff.
"They put in long hours and learn what it takes to put on this tournament," she said. "It’s also a good trial situation for them so they know what they’re getting into. It also provides them with a good network of contacts."
Reynolds agrees, noting that an internship in Boca Raton, Fla. helped open career doors for her.
"It helped me move onto the fast track," she said. "You get out of it what you put into it and if you’re open to it, it’s a great experience. It’s a good way to get your feet wet."
MEET THE INTERNS
Who wouldn’t love a 5-minute walk to work?
Housing on Daniel Island is one huge benefit for the interns working at the FCC Tennis Center. Four live in an apartment on Daniel’s Landing. The other is a Daniel Island resident. Together, they are helping regular FCC staff keep the April tourney on track:
Bill Kall, 22, Cleveland, Ohio
A longtime sports fan, Kall is majoring in sport management at Bowling Green State University. And he feels fortunate to have landed an internship here on Daniel Island.
"I wanted to try something different than football, baseball or basketball," Kall said. "And I wanted to get out of Cleveland."
He is working in the Family Circle Cup’s marketing division. Since arriving in early September, he has been working on ticket renewals and various incentive programs.
"Fans see the games but they don’t really realize what goes on behind the scenes," Kall said. "It’s a huge business."
Does he enjoy the Lowcountry?
"Oh, yeah, we’ve gone downtown and I can’t believe the beautiful scenery," he said. "And I can’t believe how many people I’ve met who are from Ohio."
Danielle Powell, 20, Williamsburg, Va.
Powell is a junior at the University of South Carolina and is majoring in sports and entertainment management. A former high-school tennis player, she enjoys athletics. But her first love is entertainment and she hopes to parlay that interest into a full-time career.
"I was originally majoring in hospitality and tourism," Powell said. "But then I changed my mind. Ideally I’d like to become involved in live entertainment of some sort.
She, too, has been working in marketing the upcoming tournament. It’s been an educational experience, she said, because she’s learned to work with new software programs and databases.
Ron Rideout, 24, Denver
"I didn’t really know what I wanted to major in and was watching a game on TV," Rideout recalled. "I thought to myself, ‘There’s got to be somebody who gets paid to put these things on."
With that, the Bowling Green State University student declared his major in sport management and has no regrets.
"I love variety and this job has that," Rideout said. "As an operations department intern I get to do things like court maintenance and daily maintenance around the complex. I love being outside rather than stuck in an office."
He sees a bright future in operations management, whether it’s working at concerts, tournaments or monster truck rallies.
Growing up in a military family took Rideout all over the world to places like Germany, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas and Louisiana. And he’s enjoying his off-time here.
"I love Charleston," Rideout said. "Here it’s more like a small city and is easy to get around in. I feel lucky to be here and I especially love all of the sunshine."
Katie Jackson, 22, Naples, Fla.
Whether she knew it or not, Jackson has been on track to become an event manager since high school. She was always planning events for the student council and cheerleading squad. She has also worked as a wedding planner and helped promote golf tournaments. A senior at the University of Florida in Gainesville, she will graduate in December when she completes her internship.
"Two years ago I was at Florida State and planning to be an interior designer," Jackson said. "But I gave that up when my art teacher said I couldn’t draw."
Her internship duties involve special-event management. Family Circle Cup sponsors extracurricular activities for tournament goers such as downtown walking tours, plantation tours and recreational things like golf, yoga and flower arranging.
Amy O’Donnell, 24, Daniel Island
Of the five interns, O’Donnell is the "local." The New Jersey native has lived on Daniel Island for six years. Having formerly worked at Daniel Island Academy, she joked that her goal is to get off the island.
A College of Charleston grad, O’Donnell is pursuing her master’s degree in business administration at The Citadel. Her internship duties include working in public relations for the tournament.
"I’ve always liked writing," she said. "I’m doing press releases, updating players’ biographies and filtering charity requests. I’m the first intern from The Citadel to be here."
With two semesters left, O’Donnell is hoping to land a job in Charleston.
"I love it here and want to stay," she said. "One thing’s for sure, I won’t be going back to Atlantic City."
‘Big Easy’ intern longs for return to TulaneWhen Sam Garner arrives each morning for his internship at Tibboel Insurance Agency, he’s thankful for one thing.
His office is dry.
The 22-year-old Tulane University senior was displaced from his New Orleans home when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast Aug. 29. Slated to graduate in December, he began an unplanned internship at Tibboel’s Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island offices last month.
Garner has a history with the agency, having worked there during summer vacation. In addition, his older brother, Ches, is an associate agent at the Daniel Island office.
Nevertheless, it’s a detour that he still finds hard to fathom.
"We bought a dog early in the summer and I’d just gotten engaged to my fiancé on Aug. 17," he recalled. "And we had just put money down for a year lease on an apartment."
On Aug. 26, Garner attended his first New Orleans Saints game at the Superdome. He contemplated saving his ticket stub as a souvenir as he was filing out.
"I thought to myself, ‘Nah, I’ll be back here for other games and I threw it in the trash," he said. "The next morning I woke up and within 30 minutes we were advised to evacuate. It was a weird situation."
After a brief visit to his family home in Rome, Ga., where they added another Australian shepherd dog to their family, Garner and fiancé Annabel McHugh traveled to Charleston to start anew. She is now enrolled at the College of Charleston and is majoring in international development and psychology with a minor in Spanish.
Meanwhile, Garner is keeping Tibboel’s computer systems in tip-top shape. Since his arrival, the information systems major has been organizing database lists and doing auto, flood, and homeowner insurance quotes.
"My fiancé told me recently that she didn’t realize just how much I love computers," Garner said. "In general, I get total enjoyment when I’m working on a computer. To be honest, it is a true passion."
But Garner’s heart still belongs to New Orleans and Tulane University. He is president of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and was legally responsible for ensuring that all chapter members in the frat house got safely out of the city. They did.
"I had about $2,000 worth of stuff that was lost," Garner said. "But that’s nothing compared to what’s happened to the permanent residents of that city."
One example is the fraternity’s cook, who lost her house and car and had to cut through her attic roof with an ax to survive rising water.
"This is a woman who had a stroke when she was in her 40s and she’s about 60 now and recovering from hip surgery," he said. "Because of her health problems, she’s had a hard time making ends meet and is deeply in debt. The fraternity fronts her money during the summer so that she can get by. It’s people like that who are devastated."
Since relocating here, Garner has contacted his fraternity brothers and they are trying to raise money to help her out.
Many New Orleans residents live from paycheck to paycheck, he said, something that might account for the large numbers of people who did not leave the city when Katrina loomed.
"If you think about it, it was the 29th of the month and there were probably a lot of people who had no money to get out," Garner said.
He also worries about Tulane’s future in the wake of the disaster. The university is an oasis of wealth surrounded by New Orleans’ grinding poverty. Tuition is $40,000 a year and the most common student vehicle is the BMW M3, he said.
"Many of these students don’t really feel they have anything invested in Tulane. I know people who have enrolled at other universities and a lot of them won’t be back. They just went on with their lives," said Garner, who has a $20,000 annual scholarship that offsets tuition costs. "Plus, what parent is going to want to send their child into the middle of a hurricane zone after what’s happened."
But Garner hopes to return and don his mortarboard and gown.
"I miss my friends and I really want to graduate with the people there," he said. "Without that, there won’t be any closure."