Internship gives a taste of real-world career opportunity for Leslie Hamilton ’15
Leslie Hamilton ‘15, an international studies and history major from Charlotte, N.C., first heard about marketing internship opportunities with Wilderness Trail Distillery while in a Global Commerce class at Centre College.
“I have always wanted to pursue a career in marketing or market research,” Hamilton said. “I love analyzing the motivations of humans throughout time and across cultures, and I think that marketing and market research gives me the opportunity to do this in a professional setting.”
Hamilton worked with Associate Professor of International Studies Lori Hartmann-Mahmud and the Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD) to make the internship opportunity a reality.
“I was drawn to Wilderness Trail Distillery because of the recent growth of the spirit industry and because its target demographic tends to vary,” Hamilton said. “This means that there’s a lot of opportunity for creativity and developing new concepts for the company’s marketing.”
Hamilton was one of 49 students who participated in an internship for academic credit this spring, which was a record number of students for the spring and fall terms at Centre.
“The College offered two or three credit internships for the first time this year,” Assistant Director of CCPD Mindy Wilson explained. “The option for reduced hours is often easier to fit into a student’s schedule, and so this change may be responsible for the dramatic increase in internships this year.”
This internship allowed Hamilton to build new skills because of the strong foundation that Centre helped her to form.
“I have been able to apply my research skills in a practical setting,” Hamilton explained. “Wilderness Trail Distillery prides itself on combining traditional methods and history with modern technology. My classes and experiences at Centre definitely helped me gain some of the skills I needed to succeed in this internship role.”
However, it wasn’t just the academic rigor of Centre that prepared Hamilton for her real-world work experience. Hamilton says the various opportunities that the College provides for students to step into important roles on campus helped, too.
“The leadership positions I took on at Centre within Greek Life and the Student Government Association taught me skills in communication that made me feel more confident in disseminating information to potential customers,” Hamilton said.
One main project Hamilton worked on was helping to create a customer loyalty program to communicate with and inform customers about tours, promotions, offers and events. She also helped Wilderness Trail Distillery develop a monthly newsletter to keep fans informed, expand the customer base and help build anticipation for the new line of bourbon, which will be fully aged and on the market within the next few years.
“I think taking on an internship for credit during my last semester of college helped prepare me for the career world,” Hamilton said. “This opportunity has given me more of the qualifications I need to obtain a full-time position.”
Hamilton says her internship experiences during her four years at Centre, of which she completed three, have inspired her career interests in a field related to market research. She will begin with graduate study in accounting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
by Anne H. Evans
June 1, 2015