Studying Abroad…from Germany to the USA

Studying Abroad…from Germany to the USA

Note:  RKPR Inc. was contacted by the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) as a possible stop in a six week program they were pulling together for Ben Martinac, a student from Germany studying Tourism Management. Ben had attended an NCOT international media FAM a year earlier and was on a personal quest to learn as much as possible about his field by studying abroad during the summer. Ben joined the RKPR team the week of Aug. 9. We couldn’t have been more pleased to host Ben and we look forward to hearing about his journey. Best wishes for your continued success!   

Around one year ago when I received the invite to a press FAM to Las Vegas and Reno-Lake Tahoe I had no idea what to expect. I was pretty excited about the trip but was somehow thinking: “what am I going to do in the desert for ten days?” The general image we’ve got in Germany about Nevada is Vegas, and desert. Well, I wasn’t wrong about Vegas. Gambling, nightclubs and a lot of booze, and all that in the middle of the desert. Exactly how I pictured it. After four nights in Vegas we packed our stuff and continued the journey to Reno. After an hour flight, we landed in Reno and what’s that? Another Las Vegas, just the pocket version. At least that’s what I thought at that time. However, I was proven wrong pretty soon.

The next morning we were taken out to the Truckee River for Whitewater Rafting by members of the NCOT. I was soon amazed by the variety of nature along the river. No sounds of car engines, no honking, no noise whatsoever. Just the whooshing of the river. From that moment on I knew I was at the right spot. And as this wasn’t enough, Lake Tahoe just blew my mind the following day. What a beautiful place, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and that’s in July. Sweet! An all American evening at the Reno Rodeo, a visit in Virginia City and a ride on the V&T steam train through the mountains was the cherry on my sundae.

So the trip was over far too soon but the good memories stayed. So come December, I am thinking about where to spend my summer. As I am studying Tourism Management and I wanted to gain some experience in the Tourism Industry, I remembered this awesome place Lake Tahoe. Wouldn’t it be great to spend the summer there and learn something job related while I’m over there? So I took my chances and wrote an email to Chris (Chrystal) and Bethany (Drysdale) at the NCOT asking whether they could use an intern during the summer. And what did I know, they actually did. So they and Angela (Froelich) organized this whole itinerary for me for six weeks during the summer. I’d be working with the NCOT for a few days, then two days with the Carson City Convention & Visitor Bureau, a week with RKPR, followed by Nevada Magazine, Reno-Sparks Convention Center and Virginia City. So there I am, it’s January and I know I’ll have the greatest summer ever. I couldn’t wait for August to come. Eight months later I was finally sitting in the plane heading to Reno.

Until now it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I worked with the NCOT, Carson City Convention & Visitor Bureau and RKPR. I’m getting to know all these interesting people, learn a lot about how tourism on a state scale is working but also how it’s done at shop floor. I have the chance to experience the whole chain of the industry at first hand and learn from professionals while staying in one of the nicest areas I’ve ever been to.

So far, while working for the NCOT and RKPR, I’ve learnt a lot about public relations – fun things such as pitching and writing press releases, but also a little less fun things such as clip reports. At least now I know that even the dullest things matter as much as everything else. A big surprise to me was that social media are used as widely for PR and marketing purposes. Back home in Germany it has just started to become a PR/Marketing tool. I was quite impressed since it is really easy to manage and it is more or less cost free. Furthermore, you can reach such a wide population with just a few clicks.

Working with RKPR has been a lot of fun. They have a great team that’s been very helpful and supporting. I was given a lot of opportunities to write press releases and social media posts and was supported with a lot of guidance and constructive criticism what allowed me to improve myself and broaden my knowledge about the field and the Reno-Tahoe Territory. Also apart from work they have been great, too and took me out so that I get to know the city better and don’t spend my evenings bored in my motel room.

I had a terrific time at the Carson City Convention and Visitor Bureau as well. It has been a totally different experience than office work. I was working at the front desk and at first I observed how visitors are being assisted and given information about the area but later I also took care of handling visitor inquiries. I have gotten to know so many different people from all over the states and the world – even a couple from my home town stopped by at the bureau. What a small world…

I am very excited about the next couple of weeks and what’s waiting for me at the other companies/agencies. Next week I’m with the Nevada Magazine and so far I’ve only heard great things about them.  If I’ll only be able to pick up half of what I’ve picked up so far it’s going to be another amazing three weeks.

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