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PLU Students Check In From Summer Internships

PLU Students Check In From Summer Internships

Posted by:
Samantha Lund '16, Matthew Salzano '18, Grace Takehara '16, Zach Martinson ’16
August 10, 2015
By Zach Powers '10
PLU Marketing & Communications

TACOMA, WASH. (August 10, 2015)- Each summer PLU students fan out across the globe — working, researching, studying or just plain relaxing. Many students leverage the summer months as an opportunity to add depth to their resumes by completing internships at local and corporate businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Internships help students discover what they appreciate in an employer; what they would like to avoid; and what skills, experience and knowledge they want to develop prior to graduation.

Many students find that their internship host is, in fact, their dream employer. In fact, many Lutes’ first jobs are with businesses and organizations where they served as interns. Still others will have a great experience but also realize that their dream job may be in a different sector or setting than they had thought.

Grace Takehara '16 is a business major with an emphasis in marketing.
Grace Takehara is a business major with an emphasis in marketing.

Grace Takehara - Nordstrom

What is your title; how many hours per week do you work; and which staff members do you work with most?

My specific title is Retail Management Intern. More specifically, I am the intern in The Rail/Topman department at Flagship (Store One in Downtown Seattle), which is a department offering clothing marketed toward men. The amount of hours I work per week has varied, especially during one of Nordstrom’s busiest months, June, but on average I work 40 hours a week. I report primarily to The Rail/Topman’s manager, Dasha Kuznetsova.

What sorts of tasks and projects do you work on at Nordstrom?

I have had the opportunity to assist with various aspects of retail management at Nordstrom throughout the internship. I have helped with department reporting, which is especially important because it allows management to compare our results among the other store departments and the other 12 Nordstrom stores within our region. It allows us to see where our strengths lie and where there is room for improvement, to guarantee future wins for the department.

I also had the opportunity to work with three of my fellow interns —who are incredible— on a project. The project asked teams to generate a concept that could make the customer experience at Nordstrom more convenient. After creating a presentation, all of the stores’ teams presented their ideas for the managers throughout the store. The winning team’s idea would move on to compete among the other 11 store winners throughout our region, which is a huge deal!

Our team created the concept of an alteration tracker, which would allow the customer to remain informed about the process of his alteration, and notify him of when and where to pick up his tailored garments. Out of five teams, my team received high marks and was honored with second place.

Wow, congratulations! What, perhaps in addition to that experience, has been the highlight of your internship?

So much has struck me, and I have enjoyed many aspects of my internship and summer at Nordstrom. As an intern in Western Washington, I had the rare and exclusive opportunity to support Nordstrom’s Designer Preview Fashion Show at Pier 91 in Seattle. The night was full of high fashion, a full-blown fashion show, hundreds of high-profile individuals and aesthetic beauty. I was backstage dressing a model in Dolce & Gabbana and Dior — it was amazing! It was exhilarating and has made me begin to pursue avenues in fashion production at Nordstrom, something that I didn’t know existed until the internship.

Has this internship challenged any of your perceptions of the field of Retail Management or of what you’d like to do for your career?

I am interested in pursuing a creative career with Nordstrom and, man, has the retail management experience opened my eyes to a lot of considerations and perspectives that I may have been oblivious to without this internship.

Although I am involved with leadership on (the PLU) campus, leading a retail team, especially in a competitive environment like Nordstrom, was eye opening. Nordstrom invests and trusts its assistant and department managers with the success of the department they are associated with—they essentially own their own business within Nordstrom. That being said, every display, every action is intentional and well thought out. Watching my Assistant and Department Manager experiment and drive business on risks was rewarding, and beyond what I thought they were involved with. Retail Management at Nordstrom requires management to think like the customer and create an environment that services them on their terms.

I was introduced to a variety of roles at Nordstrom that I would be ecstatic to pursue. Like previously mentioned, becoming involved with fashion production would be amazing or moving into an assistant manager position (the first step to becoming a department manager) are now on my radar as possible career paths, although I am still working toward my goal of a creative role in Corporate Nordstrom.

What attracted you to interning at Nordstrom in particular, and how did you go about finding and securing the internship?

Anyone who knows me knows that I have lived and breathed Nordstrom for forever. Interning at Nordstrom has been a long time coming, and a goal that I set for myself back in high school. Since high school, I pursued any contact that I had at Nordstrom to learn more about the company from the perspective of the employee. After talking to people working as sales associates to people in Corporate positions, I knew that Nordstrom upheld their employees and invested in them, a culture that I wanted to contribute and grow in.

In regards to finding and securing the internship, I asked a lot of questions. I connected with a member of Tacoma Nordstrom’s HR Team and met with her, reviewed my resume, chatted about the internship (and random things as well)—I really tried to curate genuine relationships that I could stay connected with throughout the process.

The HR team member in Tacoma told me that all of Nordstrom’s internship opportunities would become available at the beginning of December. When it comes to securing an internship at Nordstrom, it is important to not only introduce and present yourself as being polished and professional, but to be informed about Nordstrom, which includes their history, the culture and their values as a company. If you know what Nordstrom stands for and can embody that in your work, you will definitely grab somebody’s attention.

Matthew Salzano '18 is a communication major with an emphasis in journalism.

Matthew Salzano – The Inlander

What is your title, how many hours per week do you work and what staff members do you work with most?

I’m the Multimedia/Arts and Culture Intern. I work 10 hours a week, roughly – it’s a small staff, a weekly paper, and they have a total of three interns this summer. I work with all sorts of editorial staff members, namely the Arts and Culture editor, Mike Bookey; the Listings editor, Chey Scott; and most of the staff writers. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with their nationally recognized art director, Chris Bovey, and the paper’s editor, Jacob H. Fries, who is a former New York Times reporter.

What sorts of tasks and projects do you work on at The Inlander?

It’s a pretty broad selection of tasks – some days I’m doing really basic journalism internship tasks like finding images or fact-checking lists. The interns also write a lot of the brief stories like area event picks; film recaps; and an on-the-street comment section, where you go to a public place and get five different people to answer the same question related to the feature story. Beyond those basic tasks, we write other stories for print and online.

Have you had the opportunity to attend and report on any events or concerts for The Inlander?

I have! My best friend and I had the opportunity to attend the Walla Walla Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, which is a music festival organized and headlined by Mumford and Sons. We had photo passes, so we got to get up close and personal with artists like the foo fighters, the flaming lips and of course Mumford and sons. I sorted through the 3000 photos we took and put them together in a concert review as soon as we got back. It was a great experience for learning and just for fun.

What has been the highlight of your internship thus far?

It’s always a highlight when your name ends up in print for one of the longer stories: I wrote this piece about restaurants closing, which involved a good amount of investigation to just get people on the phone to confirm information. It was a fun process,  and that solving-the-puzzle aspect was a reminder of why I love doing journalism. I also really loved writing this For Your Consideration column, which rotates weekly between writers, because I’m super-full of myself and think that my opinion is the best and everyone should love the things I love. And getting that column published was validating.

Another great moment was when Macklemore came to Spokane, shooting a secretive new music video, and news outlets were scrambling to get pictures, video and information. I ended up getting pretty good cellphone video from a friend’s Snapchat who filmed him dancing with a full crew of dancers, making that into a video clip and writing a blog post that allowed me to expand on what I knew about hip-hop and Macklemore’s history.

No other outlet had video or that type of reporting that only an alt-publication with young people could pull off. It ended up being one of the Inlander‘s most-liked Facebook posts, and it turns up pretty high on Google results – it was really cool to see how something you’re proud of can end up actually reaching people.

Has this internship challenged any of your perceptions of the field of journalism or of what you’d like do for your career?

It definitely has reassured me that I’m in the right career field. I love reporting, I love writing, and I love experimenting with media. Those moments where I’ve gotten to do something no other local news organization had done yet, when I solved the puzzle of the missing restaurant owner or when my friends tell me they read the book I recommended – those reminded me that what I’m doing is really fun, and can be rewarding.

Sure, I didn’t bring down any governors or expose any corruption (yet!), but these simple things show and remind me that what I’m learning to do can have a great impact. I’m thankful to have worked with the really awesome, brilliant people at the Inlander who are truly improving Spokane with every issue. They’re a great example of how local community journalism works when it’s done well.

How did you land this internship?

With my stunning good looks, naturally.

Well, not quite – but it was actually a simple, painless process. I sent an email to the (Inlander’s) internship coordinators with writing samples, a resume and a cover letter. In the cover letter, I explained how my father had read The Inlander every week since I was a little kid and constantly taught me about the impact it was having in Spokane by telling the stories of the community. I told them that it would be a “full-circle” moment for me to work in a Spokane news organization, especially the Inlander since it was the print publication I grew up trusting. I ended up doing a Skype interview about a week after and got the internship.

What have you learned at The Inlander that you will apply to your work as General Manager of Mast Media?

At a purely logistical level, The Inlander uses a really streamlined approach for writing/editing that relies completely on Google Docs. Definitely going to be working with that. In terms of broad journalism ideology, experiencing a real newsroom has made me recognize that we need to push each other — as reporters — to deliver information that not only is accurate but thorough and helpful.

It’s easy, as students, to just take the first draft and be OK with it. I’m coming back to Mast Media with the approach of getting every question answered and then making sure that information can be digested in a way that leaves readers with useful information.

Zach Martinson ’16 is a business major with an emphasis in marketing and finance.
Zach Martinson ’16 is a business major with an emphasis in marketing and finance.

Zach Martinson - Seattle Sounders FC

What is your title; how many hours per week do you work; and which staff members do you work with most?

I’m actually serving in three different capacities with the Sounders this summer: I’m spending 30 hours per week working as the Summer Camp Intern, reporting to the Director of Soccer Programs. I spend on average two hours a week as a Grassroots Marketing Team Member, reporting to the Promotions and Experiential Marketing Coordinator. And lastly, for another two hours a week, depending on the event schedule, I’m serving as Assistant to the Coordinator of THE NINETY, reporting to the Clubhouse and Loyalty Coordinator.

Wow, that’s a lot! Can you share a bit about what you work on for each position?

For summer camps, each week I take inventory so that each camp has the soccer balls, T-shirts, handouts, prizes and other equipment they will need for the upcoming week of camp. There are up to eight different camp locations a week, so, as the intern, I am responsible for sorting and distributing all of the camp equipment for each location. I am also required to keep track of all inventory as it leaves and returns each week. Forecasting becomes vital: as I must keep track of the inventory relative to how many camps we have left to make sure there is enough supply to last the summer.

On the marketing team, we work together to ensure match-day support and match-day operations are in order. We also work as brand ambassadors on match days, which consists of talking with fans about the Sounders and their current season, as well as past and future seasons. We also work together on idea generation for future promotions and events.

The NINETY is the Sounders FC event space and fan-gathering space, serving functions for the organization itself, partners of the organization and all fans of the beautiful game. I am working hard to become an expert on The NINETY, and integral parts of these functions. I work at various board meetings, as an assistant to operations and technical support.

What has been the highlight of your internship thus far?

The highlight of my summer internship for soccer programs has been working player appearances. Player appearances consist of me picking up various members of the Seattle Sounders FC and driving them to each camp. These appearances are not only great for me, but also great for the kids. It is a great marketing tactic in which we create “long life fans.”

Our youth campers see Sounders players as superstars, and the fact they get to meet the players and get autographs creates a cognitive connection with their love of the Sounders. It is an experience that they will never forget.

Player appearances are also exciting for me because it gives me a chance to sit down with a number of the players as we drive around Washington. It has been great getting to know the guys as individuals outside of the game of soccer.

Has this internship challenged any of your perceptions of the field of sports marketing or of what you’d like to do for your career?

With all of these jobs, and the many great experiences I have had this summer, my interest in sports marketing has only become stronger. The atmosphere is extremely open and exciting. The hands-on learning has shown me that a job in sports allows for variations in each day and each week, which makes things extremely interesting and inviting to come back to. The field allows for open-minded thinking and idea generation, which brings out a lot of creativity.

Has your experience as a member of the PLU Men’s Golf team contributed to your interest interning in sports marketing?

I would definitely say that my experience as a collegiate athlete has contributed to my interest in sports marketing. Having the basic knowledge of how different sports operate has allowed me to bring in my own ideas, as well as feed off of and learn from the many other ideas that (Sounders staff and interns) bounce around each day.

Samantha Lund '16 is spending her summer interning at Alaska Airlines. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Lund)
Samantha Lund '16 is a communication major with an emphasis in public relations.

Samantha Lund - Alaska Airlines

What is your title; how many hours per week do you work; and which staff members do you work with most?

My official title is “Digital Content Intern,” which means I write stories and press releases for our external communications department. External communications is only a piece of our entire Corporate Communications department – we’re the ones that work with reporters, send out press releases and write copy for the website and the Alaska Airlines blog at

I work 40 hours a week, and my immediate boss is Halley Knigge, who is a Media and Content Editor for our corporate communications department. She is also the creator and manager of the Alaska Airlines blog. I also work very closely with Bobbie Egan, who is our director of Media Relations, whenever we have an event or something newsworthy happens.

Have you met anyone at Alaska Airlines with ties to PLU?

A really cool tie that I have here is to Dianne McGinness, who is a PLU graduate and had a very similar internship when she was a student. She now works here, full time, in the internal communications department. We get lunch almost every day together, and she’s my “corporate buddy.”

What sorts of tasks and projects do you work on at Alaska Airlines on a daily basis?  

My daily tasks are to take media calls, write copy for press releases or web content and go to meetings. I’ve done a few really cool pieces for the blog about travel and events we’ve thrown. Every day is really different – one day I’ll be at my desk from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. staring at a computer, and the next day I can be on planes taking pictures and learning about our technology.

What has been the highlight of your internship thus far?

I think the travel benefits are definitely the highlight. My first weekend on the job, I hopped on a plane and went to Hawaii without needing to worry about buying a ticket or anything. It’s really amazing.

A couple weeks ago I was sent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to write a travel review because we had just opened new flights there. It was a three-day trip, all expenses paid and I got to explore a new city! It was amazing. Not to mention Milwaukee had its annual music festival going at the time — talk about getting a once in a lifetime experience.

Has this experience challenged any of your perceptions of the field of Public Relations?

This experience has affirmed my desire to go into Journalism and content creation. Even though it is corporate communication – for a company – and I thought I’d always do hard-hitting journalism, I’ve realized the two aren’t very different other than instead of getting assignments about a ton of different things, all of my assignments have something to do with travel and aviation.

What are some ways in which you’ve grown your professional skills this summer?

My writing has definitely matured, and I’ve learned to handle myself in meetings; meeting new people; and working with people with different views, opinions and agendas.

Will you be applying any lessons you’ve learned this summer to your work as Editor and Chief of Mast Media?

I’m bringing back a lot of ideas for Mast Media and have already been working a bit on them through the summer. I worked with Shannon Johnson (our social media director here) for a couple days, and she inspired me to ramp up our social media game. Here at Alaska, we have a “Social Care” sector that is dedicated to answering questions that come through Twitter all day. It’s a special, personal touch for our customers that they really appreciate – I’m bringing the social care idea to Mast Media by having our Twitter and Snapchat open 24/7 to questions. I think the incoming first-years will really appreciate it and use it, and it could become a concierge in your pocket!

I’ve also been working a lot with a particular type of audience that makes me realize we need to scale our news for our readers and try to bring in students. As of right now, our readers are mostly faculty, staff, visitors and alumni. We want students! So the news and the way we present it will be changing a lot this year to fit what students want. It’s going to be exciting — I promise!