3/19/13 Leaving textbooks behind this winter, Randolph-Macon College student Fenton Crowther ’13 immersed herself in a January (J-term) internship in the fast-paced world of marketing. An English major and journalism minor, Crowther was thrilled to have the opportunity to put her talents to use writing copy and working with the creative team at circleS studio, a full-service marketing and branding agency located in Richmond and co-founded by R-MC alumna Susan Quinn ’80.
“With an internship, you get real-world insight,” says Crowther. “Not only did my internship help me confirm that I do want to stay in this field after graduation, but I also was able to realize just how useful many of the skills that I have been taught in the classroom prove to be outside of an academic environment.”
Fenton Crowther '13 with Susan Quinn '80
Crowther met Quinn at a Randolph-Macon young-alumni networking event hosted by circleS, where Quinn serves as President and CEO. Quinn, who founded the agency in 1999 with partner Mark Smith, came to her own career by an almost serendipitous path that began with an internship of her own. As a student at Randolph-Macon, Quinn, a political science major, was considering a career in law. But then she spent a summer interning in a law firm.
“I quickly knew this wasn’t an environment that appealed to me,” she admits. “And I changed my mind about law school.”
With law school out of the plan, instead Quinn took a job, following graduation, with a development group directing fundraising for a hospital project. She ended up involved with public relations and marketing there, and that beginning led to Quinn heading up retail marketing for a bank before eventually taking the step to start her own business. “A little snippet on your resume can open a door,” she says. That is why, to this day, I value internships so much. I am 100 percent sure I am in the right profession, because I wake up eager to embrace the opportunities of the day.”
With her own experience to reflect upon, Quinn has made mentoring interns an integral part of what her agency does. “We have interns in the agency year-round,” she says. “We put them to work, and we learn as much from them as they learn from us.”
Appreciating the value of a liberal arts education
While at circleS, Crowther was able to work with the creative team as it developed concepts for presentations to clients, and she worked on copy for internet “microsites” the agency was creating.
Some of the most important lessons learned from an internship, however, go beyond the work itself. Crowther notes of her month at circleS, “One of the biggest challenges was adjusting to a normal schedule instead of the all-over-the-place college schedule. College is definitely a different world, and it was great being immersed in a real-life work setting. I definitely learned better time-management skills.”
What Crowther also learned, she says, is how valuable her Randolph-Macon education has been. “I realized how some classes, deadlines and group projects that might seem irrelevant at the time really do help you become more prepared in ways you don’t expect.”
Crowther chose R-MC, she says, “Because I felt very much at home when I came to visit the campus. Everyone was very friendly and I also thought the campus was beautiful.”
As a student, what she has found most rewarding has been “the opportunity to study so many different academic areas, the opportunity to get a well-rounded background as well as to really get to know your professors.” In particular, she says, “My English and writing classes have had the biggest impact on my R-MC experience, not only because those are the subjects I am most interested in, but also because the professors teaching those classes have opened new doors within those fields.”
On campus, Crowther writes for the campus student newspaper, The Yellow Jacket. And last year, she traveled to Paris with a January J-term class. “I gained a deeper understanding of and appreciation for another culture, and being away also helped me to appreciate my own culture more.”
Following graduation, Crowther wants to continue exploring writing as a career. She’s applying to Virginia Commonwealth University's Brandcenter to study copywriting while also considering marketing and writing jobs in Richmond.
Internships are just one of the opportunities offered by The Randolph-Macon EDGE. Within the Center for Personal and Career Development, The EDGE is a four-year program designed to help students identify their career passions, compete for meaningful employment and apply to graduate schools.
For 30 years, R-MC’s Bassett Internship Program has been successfully placing students in internships both in the U.S. and around the globe. Coordinated with the Center for Personal and Career Development, the Bassett Internship Program works closely with students to help identify their interests and match them with an appropriate internship opportunity. Randolph-Macon’s alumni provide a strong network of support for students throughout their time at the college or in assisting them after graduation with career direction and opportunities.
Students may choose to pursue academic, paid, or volunteer internships in a wide variety of settings; recent internships have seen R-MC students gaining valuable knowledge and experience in fields including health care, finance, non-profit, communications and media, education, politics and law, and the arts.