A summer at my roller coaster backyard

The amount of times I checked my email and phone a day were endless – at least it felt that way – as I waited to hear a response from my dream internship at The Broadway League, the national trade association for the theater industry. The interview had gone even better than I had expected, and I had already begun the search for whatever studio apartment I could afford within a 50-mile radius. As the weeks passed, however, another internship offer presented itself as well as an email stating I did not get the position at The Broadway League. After weeks of anxiety, it looked as though I finally knew where my summer would be spent. I would be 30 minutes north at what felt like my backyard growing up, America’s Rockin’ Roller Coast: Cedar Point.

Even though it was not my first choice for an internship, after spending four months at Cedar Point, it became a blessing in disguise. Not only was I able to work in the park that acted as my playground for the first 13 years of my life, but was I also introduced to many other career opportunities and experiences I never would’ve imagined.

Let me tell you, 6 a.m. looks a lot prettier while you’re suspended on a roller coaster over Lake Erie while filming for a show on the Travel Channel. Never in my wildest dreams would I’ve thought I would get to see the behind-the-scenes action of the channel that has been my guilty pleasure for years. To me, it was incredible to think the channel I would binge watch for hours, seeing what thrill Bert the Conquerer would accomplish next, I was now working with to create an actual 44-minute show. Between how to set up angles so you get the best shots and physically running people down to get photo release forms signed in order to publish their faces in the program, my respect for the media industry grew rapidly throughout the day. Not to mention the amount of attention to detail that cannot be overlooked in any aspect. From what the host and people being interviewed say to the way everyone in the footage dresses, everything must be taken into account.

This was one of the first times I had ever thought of expanding my mind and having other goals rather than just working for Broadway. After working with numerous other media outlets, such as The Today Show, Fox and Friends and many more, I realized that I had amazing opportunities staring me in the face. Although public relations is my major and I very much enjoy it, working with media crews and working at an amusement park where I got to help bring joy to people everyday gave me a great perspective of the amount of possibilities I have that far exceed just working in one field, at one place. In learning more about other areas that could be potential career goals, there were also many times where I got a taste of what PR is really like and couldn’t be happier pursuing this goal.

I only had three days left of my internship and the Marketing office was going crazy getting ready for LeBron James, the King himself, to come. He was making a major announcement for his charity, the LeBron James Family Foundation, at our amusement park. We had called in all the security we could, set up a stage and prepared for thousands of people to gather and gawk at the NBA player. The day had arrived, and like any day when a major announcement and press conference is happening, there is only one word to describe it: insane. LeBron arrived and there were media crews covering his announcement everywhere. Looking over the crowd from behind the stage, thousands of people gathered to just catch a glimpse of him. Everything seemed to be going smoothly when disaster struck. I watched as panic filled my boss’s faces and they scurried back to the office. After a few minutes of patiently waiting, the interns were informed there had been an accident on a roller coaster.

How, on the biggest day of the year in which media from all over are present, does something like this happen? Not only were we handling media and one of the biggest athletes in the world, we were now handling a situation we never could have imagined. The rest of the day was filled with keeping the situation under wraps and trying to send a statement out to the public to notify them of what had happened. Talk about gaining a startling real life experience in one day.

Not to say Broadway still isn’t the dream – it still very much is – it just may not be my only purpose. After all, the experience gained while working with the Travel Channel and other news crews gave me much more respect and the desire to someday work in the media industry as well. I can honestly say I would have never contemplated that before this summer, but it wasn’t until hosting a major press conference when crisis hit that really made me believe Cedar Point was where I was meant to be.

All the experience gained, not to mention fun while doing it, gave me a whole new look at not only where I’m going in life, but also what I want out of it. I feel even more prepared for my career in PR after this internship and confident that I have options out there I never thought I would. Someday, I’ll be on Broadway, but until then I plan on taking what life throws at me and making the best of it. After all, if I hadn’t I would never have the experiences and stories I do today.

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