Callie Taylor '14 of Columbia, S.C., interned at the Aspen Meadows Resort in Colorado this summer, thanks to the generosity of a Wofford alumnus.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two weeks into her summer internship as an event planner at the Aspen Meadows Resort, home of the Aspen Institute in Colorado, Callie Taylor got the test of her short-lived professional lifetime – and used her Wofford College training to help her survive.
“The assistant director of conferences quit, so that meant my workload suddenly doubled,” says Taylor, a rising senior from Columbia, S.C., who is majoring in English and business economics. “It definitely shook up our department a little bit to have an intern in charge of so much work all of a sudden. I attribute my hands-on experience I got with my consultation project in The Institute (in Wofford’s The Space in the Mungo Center) two years ago with giving me the ability to not panic, but to take a step back, organize meticulously, and create a strategy to get the work done.”
Taylor says throughout the internship, she could hear the voices of The Space Dean Scott Cochran – “Only touch an email once!” – and Jennifer Dillenger, director of The Space, advising her on how to handle conflict. “It is really amazing when I reflect on my time at Wofford to see how my liberal arts education put me in such an advanced position.”
Even being in that advanced position, that didn’t stop Taylor from doing one stereotypically intern task – fetching the coffee – only this wasn’t your stereotypical coffee-fetching experience.
Callie Taylor '14
“One of the coolest things that happened to me while in Aspen was fixing Yo Yo Ma’s coffee,” she says. “He walked into the venue in a mad rush and asked me where he could get a cup of coffee.” After she recovered from being nearly speechless at meeting the world-famous cellist, she took him to the break station and made his coffee and had a nice conversation with him.
“Little did I know he was actually at the Ideas Festival as part of a project to help wounded veterans with PTSD find healing through learning to play music,” Taylor continues. “He volunteers his time every month to go to the Walter Reed VA Hospital to teach wounded veterans how to play music. I had the ultimate privilege of watching him play ‘America, the Beautiful’ with a double amputee he had helped. It was an incredibly surreal experience that I will never forget.”
Taylor’s internship expanded on an early passion for her. “I have always loved to come up with ideas and then develop them into reality,” she says. “There is something very fulfilling for me in that process.
“I have become very interested in designing an experience for people that pulls them into a cause or movement that they otherwise may have missed,” she adds.
While at Aspen Meadows, Taylor has overseen some 40 events this summer, working with a wide range of clients from the USA Pro Challenge to a Republican Governors discussion. “My job is to speak with the clients to find out their final numbers, their guests’ needs, dietary restrictions, their agenda, etc., and put it into our event planning system to communicate it to the hotel staff. We are the liaison between the customer and the hotel to make sure their stay her is perfect.”
After her time in Aspen, Taylor says, “I cannot stress enough to other Wofford students how important it is to put yourself out of your comfort zone and into a place that is going to challenge you. When you step out of the gates and put yourself in places where you can grow and enhance yourself, then you in turn make the Wofford community better.”
The experience for Taylor and seven other Wofford students in various internships around the country was made possible by an alumnus who not only donated the funds to provide travel and housing expense for the students, but who personally worked with the students in selecting and getting their internships and who provided lots of encouragement along the way.
“He not only helped make this experience possible financially, but he was invested in each of us throughout our time here (four students were at Aspen this summer) and beyond,” Taylor says. “I will never forget the sincere way that he cared about my time here. In his words, ‘Making money is easy; how you spend it is the hardest choice you will ever make.’ I don’t think there are many colleges out there that are preaching that message and giving their students access to people like that.”
If you are interested in internship opportunities at Wofford College, or if you are an alumnus interested in funding an internship, providing one (or more) through your company, or can help connect our students through your business network, contact Erin Emory, assistant director of The Space
, at email@example.com