A Publication of WTVP

Six Bradley students have secured positions for the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio this month.

The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of the sports world for athletes… and an incredible experience for anyone fortunate enough to be a spectator. Just imagine how amazing an opportunity it would be to work with the Olympics as a college student. That is exactly what’s happening at Bradley.

Fulfilling a Dream
The Olympic internship program was the dream of Dr. Paul Gullifor, chairman of the Communication Department. When the sports communication program was launched at Bradley in 2009, he felt an international element in the curriculum would set it apart from other schools. He learned about NBC’s Olympic internship program through contacts he already had at the network. “I knew NBC’s program was quite exclusive, but I also knew Bradley’s program was just as good—if not better—than any of the schools NBC was working with currently.”

Dr. Gullifor made many unreturned calls and emails to NBC, but he never gave up. Finally, in November 2011, he and former President Joanne Glasser were granted a meeting with network officials in New York. When they learned about Bradley’s one-of-a-kind sports communication curriculum—and its long tradition of educating world-class sports announcers and broadcasting professionals like Charley Steiner, Andy Masur, Jack Brickhouse and Ralph Lawler—Bradley was added to the exclusive list of schools to participate in the program.

Bradley President Gary Roberts also has Olympic experience as a member of the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Since the Sochi Olympics, he’s served as an arbitrator, hearing emergency eligibility appeals on-site at the Olympic Games and other international sporting events; he has also been a key speaker regarding the governing of the Olympic Games. He believes Bradley’s Olympic internship program is an incredible opportunity for students. “They get the chance to experience sport on the international stage and be a part of the Olympic movement. It’s a learning experience, but it’s also an opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger.”The following year, 10 students earned internships with NBC for the 2012 Summer Games in London. In 2014, 18 students interned with NBC at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and this year, six students have secured positions for the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio.

Experience of a Lifetime
The Olympic internships typically last three to five weeks, and students say it is intense—with 12-plus hour workdays and a hectic pace. During the London Games in the summer of 2014, interns fulfilled a variety of duties, from frontline tasks in London to behind-the-scenes production jobs in New York City. Sochi interns did the same, with six going to Russia and the rest staying stateside to do production in Stamford, Connecticut. For the 2016 games, all six students will be working in production in Stamford.

Those who’ve participated say it was the experience of a lifetime, and one student said it had a major impact in launching her career. “I interviewed for the NBC Olympic internship program when I was a senior at Bradley in 2011,” says Justine (Harris) Piehowski. “When the 2012 Olympics came around, I had already begun a career in Orlando, Florida. I found out I was selected for the Olympics internship, so I left Florida and my full-time job with the understanding I would be jobless upon my return. And it was the best decision I could’ve made.”

While in London, Piehowski worked with the NBC Sports public relations team, where she did everything from running into the city and getting supplies, to monitoring sentiment on Twitter, to getting quotes from athletes. “I even spent a few days with NBC spokespeople, including Bob Costas, Dan Hicks, Jimmy Roberts, Bela Karolyi and Nastia Liukin.” One of her most memorable days, she says, was spent with Olympian Shaun White and his crew as she rode with him from one interview to another.

“Four years later, I remember the fearlessness we all had as interns, to take a risk and change the course of our careers,” she notes. “Much of that came from the confidence our professors had in us. They worked tirelessly reviewing our internship resumes and helping us practice for our interviews. Once it came time to interview with NBC on campus, we were more than ready.”

Piehowski says her experience with the Olympic internship program gave her resume a “wow” factor, and it’s been a talking point in every interview since. “That confidence I gained eventually contributed to starting my own event planning company in Jacksonville, Florida in 2015. I couldn’t be happier with my career path, and Bradley had a huge part in that.”

The internship program has also helped recruit students to Bradley. Nathaly Trujillo, who will participate in the Rio Games this year, was accepted to 10 different schools. She was focused on sports communication as a major and the opportunities she would have as a student, including internships. “All of that really played a big role in my decision,” she explains. “I am from Dalton, Georgia, and my parents were pushing really hard for me to go to a college closer to home, but once they saw all that Bradley had to offer, we were able to make a unified decision that Bradley was by far the best option.”

Trujillo said it was imperative to know that she was going to gain experiences that would better prepare her for her chosen career path. “Being a female trying to go into a male-dominated sports field, I really wanted to know that I would have the best advantage when it came to jobs. The Olympic internship program was something that I found out about when doing research about Bradley… It was an added bonus to what the Department of Communication and Bradley already offers its students.”

A Strong Testament
Earlier this year, NBC changed its internship policy due to a lawsuit. The positions are now full-time temporary jobs as opposed to internships, and as an equal-opportunity employer, NBC has opened the program to all schools and students across the nation. While competition for these coveted opportunities has increased, Bradley remains at the top of NBC’s list; just two other schools, Ithaca and Syracuse, have more students participating this year than Bradley.

“The fact that NBC has once again selected Bradley to participate is a strong testament to our students, our communications professors and the superb performance of those who worked the previous Games,” adds Dr. Gullifor.

Bradley offers a unique sports communication curriculum that exposes students to a breadth of course offerings, including sports promotion and publicity, sports announcing and sports journalism. This internship opportunity is open to all students, regardless of their major. iBi