Alexandra Pernice, SJMC senior and USA Wrestling intern

Growing up both playing and watching her younger sister play sports, senior public relations major Alexandra Pernice of Plano always had a passion for athletics. Today, she is able to combine her love of sports with her educational concentration by serving as an intern for USA Wrestling in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Interning with USOC

USA Wrestling, a non-governing body with the United State Olympic Committee, enlisted Pernice to work as its communications intern. It is her responsibility to write and report everything about the sport.

Pernice, a senior public relations major, is currently interning with the United States Olympic Committee at USA Wrestling.

Pernice, a senior public relations major, is currently interning with the United States Olympic Committee at USA Wrestling.

“Daily, I create releases for updates on rankings and news concerning wrestling and the community,” she said. “I write feature stories about wrestlers from each style (freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman), as well as general feature pieces. I also work on updating our website and tracking our activity on Google Analytics to ensure our productivity.”

Pernice stumbled upon the internship opportunity during her junior year at Texas State. Though she initially declined the position, she re-applied this year was offered the internship a second time. A highly coveted position, each USOC internship position has upwards of 200 applicants each semester.

A History of Sports Involvement

While Pernice competed in softball, volleyball, track and cross country throughout high school, it was her younger sister’s wrestling career that helped her to understand the ins and outs of the sport.

“Being related to wrestlers makes you a part of the wrestling community,” she said, “so it was easier to fit in here at USA Wrestling.”

The Balancing Act

Because she is almost finished with her undergraduate career, this internship and one final history credit are all that stand between Pernice and graduation. Between studying for her class, working 40 hour weeks for USA Wrestling, and maintaining a social life, she has learned valuable organization and time management skills. But the biggest challenge for Pernice, however, is not finding that balance – it is living and working so far from home.

“I lived all 21 years of my life in Texas,” she said. “My immediate family and friends are all in Texas. I do have extended family here in Colorado, though, so if I ever need a getaway, I can certainly go to them.”

Pernice is housed among other USOC interns in an on-site dormitory, which creates a support system and a sense of community for all of those living away from home for the first time.

“We all come from different walks of life, and there are hardly any interns from the same state,” she said. “So we are constantly learning and changing with one another. I cannot express enough how we have all been given the chance to bond as young professionals and as friends. We ski, we travel, we explore. It has been an amazing opportunity so far, and I can’t even imagine what the future holds for all of us here during our internships.”

USO Internship Perks

Pernice holding the Olympic torch from the 2012 Olympic Games at the United States Olympic Committee Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Pernice holding the Olympic torch from the 2012 Olympic Games at the United States Olympic Committee Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Perhaps one of the most interesting events to come out of this internship, Pernice explained, was seeing Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps a few tables away in the dining hall during breakfast. But she is even more excited, she explained, when she gets the opportunity to actually talk with, on both personal and professional levels, Olympic athletes from a variety of sports.

“High profile athletes come through here all of the time, so it’s easy to get quickly star-struck,” said Pernice. “You get used to it, though.”

SJMC Contributes to Pernice’s Success

Pernice owes much of her success in this internship to the education she received through Texas State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“The Texas State SJMC helped me by taking my passion for writing and turning it into valuable skills that could carry me through such a professional environment,” she said. “I’ve also gained a great amount of confidence from my learning experience in the SJMC, and that has carried me through my experience so far at the USOC and USA Wrestling. I can [now] hold my own around some of the most seasoned professionals.”

While studying in the SJMC, Pernice explained that PR Research with Dr. Kate Peirce is the class that has benefited her the most in her internship.

“I learned a lot about the way we gather data as PR practitioners, and how it’s important to our work,” she said.

The Next Step

Upon graduation, Pernice would like to find a job in sports in the San Antonio/Austin area. She hopes to one day be employed in the USOC, and eventually work towards being involved with the International Olympic Committee.

“Hopefully this internship opportunity will help me get my foot in the door concerning future sports journalism career opportunities,” she said. “I have experienced so much in only a month’s worth of work, so I can only imagine the kind of experience I will be able to offer an employer in the future!”

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