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A Life Changing Summer

My internship at the Ripken Experience in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee was truly life changing for me. I gained so many practical career skills, learned about what I want out of my future career, met so many amazing people, as well as discovered so much about myself that I couldn’t have learned had I not had this experience. I’ve already recommended the internship to several people. Given the opportunity, I’d love to continue working for Ripken in a professional capacity.

The Ripken Experience could not function without the positive customer service every member of the team brings to the table. They taught us out of the gate to do whatever you can to make the patrons feel like they’re important and ensure they’re getting the most out of their experience at the complex. I was really pushed out of my comfort zone. I learned to start conversations with parents and work through difficult situations to make game play run as smoothly as possible. I also learned the importance of staying organized. There are a lot of moving pieces in a tournament of Ripken’s size, and without careful planning and constant organization, important details can easily fall through the cracks.

I had never really worked in youth sport before. All my experience was with adults and college students. Again, stepping out of my comfort zone and working with ten, eleven, and twelve-year-old players was an experience that I didn’t realize I needed. I loved seeing their enthusiasm and love for the game. Some teams brought incredible skill that was truly amazing to watch. The work atmosphere was very laid back, and the full-time staff all worked with each other so well. It was obvious that they were not only co-workers but friends. I was immediately drawn to that aspect of the job and quickly realized that was how I wanted to spend my career.

I was able to meet and connect with people from all over the country this summer. Parents loved to come talk to me after the games and ask where I was from because of my thick southern accent. I loved hearing about where they were from as well. I was able to form a very strong bond with the rest of my fellow interns. Not only did we live and work together, but we spent all of our free time together. They all taught me so much about pushing myself to be the best and how important building a work community is.

Lastly and most importantly, I learned a lot about myself. I’ve never spent more than a few weeks away from home and I worried being so far away for an entire summer would be extremely difficult. Instead, I absolutely loved it. I learned that moving to a brand new place with no prior contacts can be really exciting. I thrive in a larger city environment and hope to find a career that allows me to live in that setting. The Ripken Experience changed my life and I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to not only work, but grow there.