The Diary of an Intern

By: Nigel Standish

Who remembers their first internship? Grunt work, long hours, wondering why you decided to get into this… But in the middle of all the chaos, there’s usually a moment when everything clicks and you realize that this job is pretty cool despite all the cuts and bruises.

Nigel Standish, an intern at Elevation’s Charlotte office, is a communication studies student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He recently tagged along for an event in Wyoming and we tasked him with writing a blog about his first trip with Elevation. His journal of events reminded several of us of our first experiences in the industry and how exciting it was taking it all in. 

Day One: “Clear for Take Off”
My alarm went off at 5 a.m. to get ready for my early departure from Charlotte Douglas International Airport. I hadn’t flown since I was a kid and the thought of being 35,000 feet off the ground was something I had been dreading ever since I agreed to help with the event. To add to all the built-up anxiety, it was the last time I would see my girlfriend in over two months, as she was moving to Chicago to begin law school. My Elevation teammates helped keep my nerves down and before long we were in Billings, Mont. – just a short drive away from our destination. After arriving in Wyoming and getting a little R&R, we had dinner with a few locals who would be working with us during the upcoming event. Then it was off to sleep and adjusting to the two-hour time change.

Day Two: “2,000 Bags”
I woke up to heavy snow falling. In May?! This was a dramatic change for a guy who has lived in North Carolina his entire life. We started by prepping our workroom in the hotel for gift bag stuffing that would be taking place that evening. All of the event apparel looked great with the official event logo. After a quick stop for lunch, we ran a few errands to ensure we had everything we needed for the upcoming weekend. It was interesting to start to see how everything takes form for such a big event. The transformation from just talk and planning, to seeing the event come together 2,000 miles away is amazing. The bag stuffing started quickly and with plenty of help from volunteers, 2,000 bags were filled and ready in no time. My excitement was building to get the event underway.

Day 3: “Load it up”
The main focus of day three was to load all of the supplies and equipment we needed to transport to the venue. We loaded up all of our shipments from the hotel in a U-Haul truck and then headed over to our storage area to empty what seemed to be a never-ending room of signage, inflatables, tents, etc. As we arrived at the event site, my jaw dropped. I had never seen such a beautiful landscape. Not only were there 60 acres of pristine green grass, but also an amazing background of the Big Horn National Forest. We parked the U-Haul and then quickly rushed back into town to get ready for the event kickoff dinner, where we were hosting around 40 VIPs and event staff. As I imagined, working with Becky and Jess, the dinner went very well and many comments were given about how great it was. Having never experienced a big event like this, it was such an eye-opener seeing how the different tasks throughout the week ensures everything goes phenomenally.

Day 4: “Heavy Lifting”
Another day came and this one included a lot of manual labor. This was the stuff that I was warned about, but you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what makes all the hard work worth it - when a vision becomes a reality. It was great to watch and learn how my team orchestrated the construction of such a massive undertaking with the amount of tents, signs and other things that decorated the site. It was no secret that after hours upon hours of moving and lifting we were all exhausted.

Day 5: “Kick-Off”
The first official event day had arrived. We were at the venue just after 6 a.m. and I was ready to go putting up various tents, setting up sampling stations and other miscellaneous tasks - basically whatever I could do to help the day run as smooth as possible. And it went just that way, except for the one thing we could not control – Mother Nature. Strong winds and pop-up tents don’t mix. The big takeaway from day one of the event was learning that you have to continuously monitor all of your equipment and various display stations. It appeared we had done a pretty good job based on the praise we received from others. To me this was the most rewarding part, because people recognized that the event was being run well and saw we were giving it our all. It was great to see a successful day one and we called it an early night by picking up some pizza and heading to bed.

Day 6: “The Home Stretch”
It was my final workday in Wyoming my alarm was ringing just before 6 a.m. We all loaded up and headed out to complete what we already knew was going to be a trying day. This was no more evident than when we watched heavy snowfall make its way to the venue. As we got to work putting tents, inflatables and tables out it was nearly unbearable. The day started off with a special Mother’s Day breakfast featuring 500 bagel bags. As I imagined many moms didn’t want to walk across the 60-acre complex in the snow to get their well-deserved Mother’s Day breakfast. So we set out to deliver the breakfast bags to the many dedicated moms, despite the freezing weather and snow pelting our faces. This is just one example of something I have continuously seen from entire Elevation Charlotte team. In order to succeed you have to go beyond the call of duty. It wasn’t long before we were packing up and ready to call it a day. The feeling of accomplishment when we had our last item unloaded was amazing. To see and learn the ins and outs of my first professional event was an experience I will never forget. I know the many skills I learned will transfer over to whatever position I take on in the future.

Photo: L-R - Elevation intern Nigel Standish, account coordinator Becky Schaefer and manager of public relations Jessica Brown.