Elon senior advances to final round of Golin’s ‘Unternship’ program
Cate LeSourd ’15 is one of three remaining candidates for the communications firm’s unconventional internship initiative. She will interview in Chicago this month with Golin executives and staff members, including CEO Fred Cook.
Could #50stateswithcate soon be trending on Twitter? That reality drew closer last week when Elon University senior Cate LeSourd was named one of three finalists for the Golin “Unternship” program, an unconventional three-month internship opportunity supported by the global communications firm.
As part of LeSourd’s top-three finish, Golin will host the Strategic Communications major in Chicago from Feb. 22-23, arranging and paying for her airfare and lodging. While in the Windy City, LeSourd will take part in a series of meetings and interviews, including a one-on-one sit down with Fred Cook, Golin’s CEO. The three finalists will also participate in an experiential activity that will help Golin staffers see their “ability to improvise,” LeSourd said.
The nontraditional interview format fits the unconventional nature of Golin “Unternship” program, which instructed candidates to design their own unique adventure anywhere in the United States. A single untern winner will be named on March 18 with their self-designed “Unternship” beginning in June. At the completion of their adventure, the chosen untern is guaranteed a full-time, paid position at Golin.
The School of Communications was well represented in the national candidate search, with Peter Walpole ’15 and Lauren Snow ’16 placing in the top six and top 29, respectively.
LeSourd set herself apart from other “Unternship” candidates with an ambitious video proposal to visit all 50 states in just three months. As part of the program, the selected untern will share their insights in real time via videos, blogs and social media. LeSourd brainstormed a hashtag – #50stateswithcate – to accompany her submission, and it gained rave reviews with the Golin staff, she said.
“I am lucky that my name rhymes with so many words, but I knew once the idea popped into my head it would be extremely catchy,” LeSourd explained.
The opportunity to travel the country, taking in landmark destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Yellowstone National Park, has a strong appeal to LeSourd. She’s traveled frequently over the past decade, embarking on service trips and international travel since she was a teenager. At Elon, her interest in seeing the world continued, studying abroad in Florence, Italy, where she traveled extensively throughout Europe.
“There’s so much of America that I haven’t seen and experienced yet and this ‘Unternship’ would enable me to do that and push me in a direction towards my career,” LeSourd said.
With a few weeks to let her proposal sink in, LeSourd understands her 50-state adventure could be a taxing task. In a recent conversation with the senior, Golin officials agreed, and they have looked into how to refine her idea based on time and financials. “They love the idea and that’s why I’m a finalist, but there may be a need to look at the details of how to really make it happen,” LeSourd said. “As this has become more of a reality, I have definitely wondered how on earth I could travel constantly for three months straight … alone.”
While her proposed trip’s logistics are daunting, LeSourd is elated to be an “Unternship” finalist. “I am honestly still in a bit of shock that this is actually happening,” she said. “However, it is exciting to think I would have the possibility to see so much of my own country.”
LeSourd is also anxious to meet Cook whose career path from hotel doorman to the top post at one of the world’s largest communications firms seems ripped from a Hollywood script. “I am excited to meet him for I have heard how friendly and personable he is,” she said. “Having read his book, I look forward to meeting and talking with him about life, experiences and how they shape us into the people we are today.”
Whatever the outcome, LeSourd explains the “Unternship” application process has already been beneficial. She said it has cemented that she is on the right career path, a settling conclusion for someone who’s switched majors a time or two.
“Elon has prepared me to think creatively, be bold with ideas, convey information, and to express my vision effectively,” she said. “No matter what happens in the end, I am incredibly grateful for how this ‘Unternship’ experience has stretched my faith and how it’s provided me with the assurance knowing I’m graduating Elon with a bright future ahead.”