Windy City Wheels

By Matt Hawkins
February 25, 2014

A dozen Bradley public relations students worked the Chicago Auto Show floor in February as the university continued a 12-year relationship with the event. 

Two groups of interns each spent a week at the nation’s largest auto show, with the first crew working media preview week and the second crew on-site during the show’s opening week.

“The Chicago Auto Show internship is a continuing example of how Bradley students are beneficiaries of rewarding experiential learning opportunities,” said Dr. Ron Koperski, retired professor of communication. “The uniqueness of this experience is rooted in the multi-day, high-energy, cross-platform experiences the students get by working directly with media professionals and automotive manufacturer executives.”

With more than 1,000 displays covering 1 million square feet of McCormick Place to monitor, interns hustled to keep in contact with media and to manage social media. The juniors and seniors handled media credentials, published press releases and assisted with press conferences as automakers rolled out new vehicles.

Bradley students also maintained the CAS social media presence. This meant snapping photos, shooting short videos and writing posts for CAS’ official blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine feeds.

Multitasking under deadline pressure taught Michelle Flores ’14 valuable career lessons.

“I think my time management skills will improve greatly,” she said. “We attend press conferences, write blogs or press releases, and turn them in to the communications team in about an hour and a half. Once we graduate we will be expected to complete tasks quickly, and I think the Auto Show gave us excellent practice.”

Beyond on-the-job training, the internship enabled students to network with industry professionals and connect with Bradley alumni in the Chicago area. Those ties have directly led to eight students finding jobs after graduation.

Erin Guth ’14 appreciated both the insider’s perspective and the multiple learning opportunities of the week.

“I wanted to help with the behind-the-scenes work because I had been there before and knew what it was like to be a guest,” she said. “I was able to network with professions in the communications industry in Chicago, learn about the automobile industry, and use my social media skills in a different way. It was a very rewarding and entertaining experience.”