This summer, several UTC students are trading classes for internships, choosing to learn outside the traditional campus environment at area businesses like the Chattanooga Zoo and 105.1 FM, ESPN radio in Chattanooga.
As part of her psychology practicum class, rising senior Mary Katherine Cox is volunteering at one of the Chattanooga Zoo’s summer camps. Located just miles from campus, the zoo holds camps throughout the summer months, including one called “Zooability.”
This camp is specifically designed for individuals with special needs. Campers enjoy a great week of fun animal encounters, unique activities, and field trips. Cox decided to volunteer with this camp to gain more experience working with special needs children.
“I’ve had a lot of experience working with children in a daycare setting, but never with children with disabilities before. It’s been a whole new learning experience. It’s really been pushing my boundaries,” she said.
As a camp counselor, Cox assists a specific child throughout the day, completing activities ranging from making t-shirts, putting together toolboxes, supervising swim time, and feeding some of the zoo’s animals.
“A typical day at camp is just moving from one activity to another with my designated camper. I focus on making the transition between activities easier for him by playing to his strengths. And of course, we just have fun,” she said.
Cox, who hopes to become a diction counselor in the future, has enjoyed her time at the summer camp. “All UTC students should do an internship. There’s such a difference between learning in a classroom and learning from hands-on experience. A book can’t fully prepare you for something like this,” she said.
Though it may seem like an unlikely connection, UTC senior Robert Johnson’s II experience in stand-up comedy helped prepare him for his internship at the 105.1 FM ESPN Chattanooga radio station. Performing in front of a live audience makes him a natural when he goes on the air during Nick Bonsanto’s popular daily sports program.
“I’m regularly on air during the afternoon show talking sports or just joking with Nick. I like sports radio because you can get passionate about it. Sports radio isn’t so much about the games and scores, but about people and emotions,” Johnson said.
In addition to being on-air, Johnson II also researches for upcoming shows and promotes the radio station in the community.
“I’ve done some crazy things to promote the station. I took a boombox into a barber shop just to convince people to listen,” he said.
Johnson also recommends students do an internship to gain experience in the working world. According to Johnson II, students might be surprised by who they meet during their internship.
“Everyone has this suit and tie image of the real world, but it’s not like that at the radio station. I consider the people I work with my friends. We talk about our families and personal issues. It’s completely different than what I thought it would be,” he said.