My name is Gracie Akers and I am a Strategic and Corporate Communication Major with a Leadership Themed Inquiry. In the Spring Semester of 2024, I got an internship opportunity for a local Dog Rescue, Labradors and Friends, as their intern for Event Planning.

My two event supervisors, Michelle Watson & Michele Aerts!

I first became aware of Labradors and Friends in the Fall semester of 2023. I was taking Message Design with Dr. Sara Labelle, and we partnered with the rescue in hopes of raising awareness about Labs and Friends and getting donations. We hosted 4 on-campus events, with a different activity each day. Through effective event preparation, energetic student interaction, and a positive attitude, we raised $2,400 for Labs and Friends!

Once finished, one of the volunteers from Labs and Friends, Michele Aerts, told my professor to give me a shoutout for hosting the events. When I heard this, I messaged Michele about possible internship opportunities. She then told me she would love to have me be a part of her Events Team! We hosted various fundraising events/activities such as car shows, bingo, adoption days, holiday special events, painting classes, pet expos, and so much more. I have helped set up each event, created fundraising posters, painted art for raffle giveaways, and facilitated raffle ticket sales and marketing contributions. I also got the chance to organize an array of donated goods from local pet supply stores. I then put them into a spreadsheet to inform other volunteers what supplies we have for the fosters, potential adopters, and upcoming events. At each event, we focus on recruiting volunteers, spreading awareness about adoption, and donations. One of my favorite aspects about the events is really cultivating a welcoming environment for all attendees.

There are many different aspects that I have learned in my Strategic and Corporate Communication classes that have proven to be helpful when hosting events. I feel equipped with the skills it takes to understand different types of people, their personalities, and how they get persuaded to do certain actions. For example, a lot of our events are very family-focused. We strive to create an all-inclusive and comfortable space for people of every age. I am extremely passionate about connecting with others, especially in the workplace. Due to my persuasive messaging knowledge and love for people, I knew how to tailor my messages when creating relationships with potential donors/volunteers. I got so much joy from speaking to each family at all the events, utilizing my multi-generational communication skills.

My experience as an events intern for Labradors and Friends has been extremely rewarding. It perfectly combines my love for animals and my passion for creating valuable relationships with those I communicate with. The valuable skills I learned in my Strategic and Corporate Communication classes allowed me to effectively promote the events, engage with the donors, and coordinate with other volunteers. This internship showed me I can be successful in a fast-paced, ever-changing, non-profit work environment. I am forever grateful to my supervisors, professors, and Chapman University for helping make this all possible.