How I Turned my Campus Ambassador Opportunity into a Full-Time Job!

Posted on February 29, 2016

This is a guest blog post written by our University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Campus Ambassador, Hanna Handler. 

It was my sophomore year of college and I decided to run for Panhellenic Council at the University of Illinois. During my time as Vice President of Public Relations, I had the chance to attend a Greek conference in Indianapolis where I heard Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen, speak for the very first time. This encounter inspired me to become an Intern Queen Campus Ambassador for my school. At the beginning of my junior year, I learned about the Ford College Ambassador Challenge from the Intern Queen staff and was encouraged to apply. After a semester of hard work, my team ended up winning the Ford Challenge, which led to an internship at the Ford Motor Company, and now, a full-time job!

It’s crazy to think that just one year ago, I was celebrating my team’s win of the 2014 Ford College Ambassador Challenge and flying out to Detroit, Michigan, to present about my experience at Ford Motor Company’s headquarters. My teammates and I toured vehicle assembly lines, met with Ford executives, and reminisced about our Ford Challenge adventures. That trip was just the tip of the iceberg, for I was ready to begin my summer at Ford Motor Company in their Chicago office as their Marketing, Sales and Service intern.

To be honest, it was very intimidating at first. Not only was I the only summer intern at the office, but I took a shift from my comfort zone within the public relations industry by tackling a job in the marketing field. During my first few days at Ford, I was instructed to begin brainstorming ideas for my internship project and to pick the brains of the people around me. I met with every manager around the office and I shadowed many of the younger employees on their days traveling to and from Ford dealerships. I learned about their previous experiences as interns, and talked about why they chose Ford as a full-time employer. Regarding my project, I was able to hone in on my creative and graphic design abilities by creating a tangible social media marketing plan that Ford employees could present to Ford dealerships in a digestible, clear way.

Probably the most rewarding part of my internship was coming full circle and assisting with the planning of the 2015 Ford College Ambassador Challenge for college students across the country. This was my area of “expertise” around the office, and I had the best time brainstorming ways for students to bring the Ford brand to their campus communities. By the end of my three month internship, I was hungry for more, and ultimately ended up accepting a full-time job with Ford Motor Company after graduation.

If I didn’t go see Lauren Berger speak a few years ago, who knows where I would be today. But what I do know is the value of an internship and how every opportunity can become a stepping stone for the next.