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A Boilermaker who...didn't allow herself to blend into the crowd

This week we asked senior Sara Yelich about her time at Purdue and in the professional world. Here’s what she had to say!

Tell me about yourself:

“I’m a senior in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, and will graduate in August. I’m from Parke County, Indiana, the Covered Bridge Capital of the World. At Purdue, I’ve been involved in a bit of everything — from a heavy involvement my freshman year in the Paint Crew to a stint in the Ballroom Dance Club.

My most memorable experiences have been as a Boiler Gold Ambassador with Purdue Football and Purdue Student Government, where I’ve served for three years, most recently as Student Body Secretary. In the free time that I manage to find, I enjoy throwing “Crock Pot Nights” for my friends, squeaking in time with my family, and running half-marathons are my favorite.”

How did you begin your internship quest?

“My search for internships was a constant quest. My interest in event planning started when I became the Events and Educational Events intern with the College of Agriculture. In that role, I worked with the college’s exhibits in the Our Land Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair. I adored it, and the next fall I found out through the CCO that Red Frog Events was attending a career fair. I visited their website and was instantly in love. I knew I needed to stand out, so I went against the grain and wore a pink sweater and leopard-print flats into a room full of suits. It worked!

I was one of an intern class of 70 out of about 2,000 applicants, and adored every minute. Where that experience was very serendipitous, applying to work with the 500 Festival was more strategic. I knew endurance event planning was right up my alley, and I was set on interning for the nation’s largest half marathon. I had to take a semester away from campus, but the sacrifice was worth the experiences that I had.

I was blessed to have internships where I was able to dive in and contribute to all of my teams. Being able to learn and grow alongside awesome people made it worth moving to Chicago — a city I had visited once (check!) or commuting 70 miles one way (check!). At the time, those seemed like major challenges but looking back, it added to my personal growth — isn’t that what it’s all about?”

What did your internships teach you?

“The things I learned during my internships — from the usefulness of zip ties to the power of FedEx and public transportation — pale in comparison to the relationships I made. My intern class at Red Frog is full of awesome people doing amazing things all over the world, and we keep in touch on a giant Facebook group.

The eight interns I worked with at the 500 Festival taught me the meaning of teamwork; it takes a special group of people to still like each other after working 40-some hours in a row together with limited sleep. And, of course, my former supervisors are still a phone call away when I need advice, a recommendation, or a long lunch to catch up. I can only hope that other Boilermakers are as lucky in their internships as me.”

What advice do you have for fellow students and young professionals?

“I would advise anyone to find internships in areas that they’re passionate about — working hard is easier when you care about your projects. Do whatever you’re assigned to do with zeal; if all you do is make copies one day, turn making copies into the best job ever.

Be professional, be courteous, and know that even interns can leave a lasting impact on an organization. Don’t get so focused on working that you forget to stop and soak in what you’re doing. Whether you’re hanging out with super fast Kenyan runners and an Olympic marathoner or hauling duffle bags across Brooklyn, the memories you make will stick with you for a lifetime.”

What are your plans after graduation in May?

“After graduation, I hope to work in event management — it’s not as glamorous as I thought it sounded four years ago, but seeing the fruit of your labor is so rewarding. Eventually, I hope that I am lucky enough to impact college students the way that my internships impacted me.”

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