Turning an Internship Into a Job

Turning an Internship Into a Job
Last year at this time, Lake Forest College men's cross country runner Thomas Beilke '14 was preparing to start an internship at USA Track & Field in Indianapolis. Obtaining the internship was a dream of Beilke's, but he turned that dream into a reality through the Forester Game Plan and working closely with the Career Advancement Center.
Now a year later, Beilke is an example of how making the most of an internship and making  connections can turn into a full-time job. Beilke will start a new position at USA Track & Field in June.

We caught up with Thomas to talk about his full-time position at USA Track & Field and how Lake Forest prepared him for llife after college.


1.) Talk about your new position with USA Track & Field. What are your duties and what is your job title? 

New job title is Coordinator- Generalist. Just basically means I'm a general coordinator. It is a position they created for me and it pretty much entails me rotating through different departments on a periodical basis. I did a lot of work for various departments during my internship, so I'm guessing that's why they figured I would be useful doing lots of different things around the office. I'll be starting out in finance, however, as that is what relates the most to my business major and math minor. It's kind of a unique position and I like it because it will give me exposure to lots of different tasks and responsibilities. 

2.) How do you feel Lake Forest prepared you for this position? Are there specific things that you did in order to put yourself in a position to have this opportunity?

I think that they best way Lake Forest prepared me for this position was by teaching me how to grow up over the years and guiding me to act in a professional manner. They do a good job of coaching through the Career Advancement Center and Forester Game Plan to ease us into finding our place in the professional world. There is also a lot of support coming from all corners of the campus, and that's key for providing the confidence needed to dive into life after Lake Forest. I have to give a lot of thanks to coaches, professors, Athletic Council mentors, and the Career Advancement Center for setting me up for success. Specifically, going to the Career Advancement Center was key. I would urge everyone on campus to go there regardless of their future plans.

3.) A year ago you were interning at USA Track and Field and now you are working there, is this a dream come true? Did you ever this something like this was unattainable?

Honestly, having the opportunity to now work at USA Track and Field in an full time position is something of a dream come true. I can remember back to over a year ago when I was applying for the internship and I thought how cool it would be to actually work there. During my internship whenever coworkers would ask me what my plans were after graduation I would tell them that I was hoping to get back to USATF someday. Now it's actually happening and it's still a little hard to believe. I knew it would be hard to pull off as I was returning back to campus for senior year, already knowing what I wanted to be doing nine or ten months later, because I feel like it's not very often that people get hired for their dream job right out of college. People are typically lucky to be hired for ANY job right out of college, even if they had an internship with a certain company previously, so I definitely consider myself fortunate to be where I am. I think the key for me was maintaining contact with the people I had worked with, and letting them know how badly I wanted to be there for more than just an internship. I'm grateful, and consider myself very lucky to be where I am, and I only hope that I can continue to move up the ladder in the professional world.

4.) What advice would you give to current students seeking a job in the sports industry? Or just in general?

I think the best advice I can offer to someone trying to go into sports is to simply get into sports, no matter what the capacity may be. Get your foot in the door anywhere and just work your way up and around. A piece of advice given to me during my internship was that for those of us interns that wanted to continue on and pursue a career in sports, we needed to stay in the sports world making a name for ourselves, whether it be through more internships, volunteering, or you name it. Something I've always been told that I really believe in is that success comes to those who really work for it, and you get out of things what you put into them- as far as effort is concerned. 

Like I said earlier I think that the main key for me was to keep in contact with my company and maintaining a relationship after I left my internship. I went down to Indianapolis over both my winter and spring breaks to volunteer my time and prove that I was dedicated to the company and I think that commitment level is what employers want to see. 

Click here to read the story about Beilke and his internship last summer.