Summer Internships Give Spartans Real World Experience

Posted on July 27, 2023

UNCG graduate student Tori Hinslaw stands in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame

Whether they’re on campus or out in the world, Spartans continue to learn, grow, and make an impact every day – even when class isn’t in session – through summer internships around the country.


Senior Awa Mbai is an intern with Congresswoman Kathy Manning’s office in Greensboro, but she’s had the opportunity to visit the Congresswoman’s Washington, DC office as well.

Senior Awa Mbai’s family immigrated to the United States from Gambia, eventually settling in Raleigh, North Carolina. Now, she’s using her experience and her political science studies to help others as an immigration assistant for Congresswoman Kathy Manning.

A first-generation college student, Mbai helps people navigate immigration casework from Rep. Manning’s Greensboro field office – reporting to the U.S. State Department about cases and any problems people may be having.

“I’ve had the opportunity to go to their D.C. office as well, which is really cool,” Mbai says. “I’ve also been able to gain a lot of knowledge overall about immigration casework from them.”


During her sophomore year, Mbai was looking for internship opportunities, specifically in Congress. She turned to her advisor Professor Jeff Colbert and other students within the Student Government Association (SGA) on how to navigate the internship world.

“One of the first things I heard within my freshman year was to make sure to use the people around you to learn about different things,” says Mbai, who is now the student body vice-president. “Networking is really important.”

Her student government experience taught her important leadership and planning skills, but it was one of Mbai’s first on-campus jobs that gave her a leg up for the internship with Rep. Manning. Using her Spanish minor skills, Mbai taught refugee students at the Center for Housing and Community Studies Cottage Gardens Resource Center.

“That experience showed I could work with kids of different backgrounds, communicate, and work to enrich students’ lives as well,” Mbai says.


Graduate student Tori Hinshaw is interning with the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

Graduate student Tori Hinshaw returned to a familiar place for her summer internship – her home state of Tennessee and the birthplace of country music.

Hinshaw, who is working toward a master of arts in history with a concentration in museum studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a collections intern at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The collections department is the caretaker of thousands of items displayed in the museum. Hinslaw has worked in several smaller museums including the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama and RCA Studio B in Nashville, so she was interested to see how working at a larger museum would compare.

“I saw the collections internship and also took a collections class last fall, which taught me a lot about what that looks like as a career,” Hinshaw says. “I also work with collections in the University Archives, so I thought this would build upon that experience.”


Hinshaw started the internship in May – just in time for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” to arrive in Nashville and a pop-up exhibit about the music star to be set up in the Hall of Fame.

“It’s been really surreal,” she says. “I got to see the original Taylor Swift cardigan, her ‘Folklore’ coat, you name it. So, that’s been my favorite moment so far.”

She credits many of her professors in the museum studies program with helping her get the opportunity.

“I cannot stress how wonderful the professors in this program are for preparing us,” she says. “Dr. Ann Parson’s class taught me a lot about best practices working with artifacts and working in a museum in general. Dr. Torren Gatson has taught me a lot about professionalism. UNCG has prepared me enormously.”


Photo credit: Chad Robertson –

While Hinslaw is staying grounded in Tennessee, senior Helen Erikson is taking her skills to the skies as a drone technician for Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

“I never expected this job to happen,” says Erikson, who is studying for a bachelor of fine arts in drama with a concentration in design and technical production in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA).

Erikson discovered the position through a job fair, and since she does media and production design at UNCG, it was a good match. She works on the park’s nightly drone light shows.

“It’s another medium of live entertainment,” Erikson says. “Dollywood encourages you to learn different things because when we’re not flying drones during our shift, we’re doing lighting technology around the park, which is something I never thought I’d get to work with.”


The position is a full seasonal job, rather than a traditional internship, but it’s allowing Erikson to use the skills she’s learned at UNCG.

“Studying in the School of Theatre has allowed me to try different areas of theatre and live entertainment,” she says. “UNCG has been good about letting me do the things other people might not immediately jump on like dramaturgy or projection design.”

The job is also giving her perspective on where her UNCG education can take her.

“It’s definitely broadened my horizons of what theatre can apply to,” she says. “There are so many different aspects of life that the degree can be used for.”

And although she gets a bird’s eye view of the park, she hasn’t caught a glimpse of the Queen of Country herself: “I have not seen Dolly, sadly. She came on May 15, a couple of weeks before I got here.”

Senior Rowan Bennett is an intern at Cotton, Inc. in Cary, North Carolina.


The Bryan School of Business and Economics’ Department of Consumer Apparel and Retail Studies (CARS) internship program is one of the oldest programs on campus. CARS students are required to do a 6-credit hour internship at approved business sites. This summer, 55 students are in the field doing internships.

Senior Rowan Bennett is interning with Cotton, Inc. in Cary, North Carolina, while senior Cameron Carthron is working with Fanatics in Jacksonville, Florida.

Bennett is a product development and implementation intern – she connected with the textile company through a professor who worked there. She’s currently working on a project where she makes an outfit using 3D software while also making it in real life to compare the two.

“I just thought it would be a really good experience,” says Bennett, who is concentrating in apparel design. “I’ve had the chance to learn more about textile design and production because we don’t really focus on that as much at UNCG.”


Senior Cameron Carthron grew up in a sports family so getting an internship with Fanatics in Jacksonville, Florida was the perfect opportunity.

CARS senior Cameron Carthron grew up in a family of sports fans, so when it came to finding an internship, sports merchandising company Fanatics meshed her interests together. One of the company’s biggest items is their “fat heads” – large wall stickers of famous athletes and team logos.

“My first introduction to Fanatics came from when we had fat heads, and there was a giant Cam Newton one on my wall,” she says. “The company is really about the whole fan experience.”

Carthron is working at the company’s offices in Jacksonville, Florida doing merchandising, with a focus on ecommerce and planning.

“The retail math classes at UNCG have really helped me, especially with my internship being focused on planning,” Carthron says. “The Excel-based classes have also been helpful as well.”

Like Bennett, CARS faculty helped Carthron land her internship. It was also the faculty that drew her to CARS overall.

“I’ve always been interested in fashion, but I just never realized that I could make it into a career,” says Carthron. “I took one of Dr. Trish Kemerly’s classes in my freshman year and it made me interested about the psychology and behavior of why we dress, so I wanted to dive deeper.”

Whether they’re on campus or out in the world, Spartans continue to make an impact and prepare themselves for exciting careers ahead.

Drone photo of UNCG's campus.


Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Awa Mbai, Tori Hinshaw, Rowan Bennett, and Cameron Carthon


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