Investing in the Furman community and beyond
In the fall of 2015, Furman English and communication studies double major Erin Mellor ’17 noticed a campus advertisement for an internship with the university’s Undergraduate Evening Studies (UES) program. She was drawn to the opportunity to gain experience toward her intended career path, working in the corporate communications field for a large company such as Google or Unilever. And the internship’s on campus location was an added bonus. After discussing it with her faculty advisor, the then 21-year-old day student began working for UES at the beginning of the spring semester.
A native of Irvine, California, Mellor first learned about Furman from her favorite counselor at a summer camp in Texas. She her arrival to campus in the fall of 2014, she has become a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Furman’s leadership honor society, and Sigma Tau Delta, an honor society for English majors. The latter honored her writing skills at the society’s international convention in 2016.
The UES internship allowed Mellor to apply the skills she had developed through her communication studies and English classes as she gained real-world experience through the internship’s duties. She interviewed students and faculty for the UES newsletter, The Finish Line, developed blog posts, created new UES print materials, designed graphics for online content, and coordinated UES events.
The annual UES graduation celebration was the largest project that she executed and also re-envisioned. Mellor redesigned the event’s invitations, orchestrated a new menu with the campus catering service, and coordinated with the Furman Alumni Office as well as a local florist to make the most of the venue, Cherrydale Alumni House. She arranged for a professional videographer to film “exit interviews” with all of the graduates in attendance—a first for the UES program.
Coordinating this event gave Mellor her greatest exposure to UES students, and the personal stories she heard that evening made a lasting impression. “It showed me that my internship was an investment in the Upstate community, not just the Furman community,” she says. “Seeing the ways that doors open with a bachelor’s degree was really incredible, furthering each person’s personal and career goals.”
Mellor views her UES internship as part of what makes a Furman education unique—the relationships forged across campus, such as the one she developed with UES Director Beth Crews. “I love Beth and the all work is doing [with UES],” Erin says. “One of the great things about Furman is building relationships with administrators. I’ve appreciated Beth’s willingness to serve as a reference and as a mentor. That relationship has continued even after the internship.”
Erin says her experience with UES prepared her for her subsequent internship last summer in Wellington, New Zealand. Not only was she able to apply the communication skills she had honed during her time with UES, but the experience also fostered a new level of confidence gained from working in a real-world setting.
This past fall, Greenville Wordsmith hired Mellor as a publishing assistant. The local nonprofit organization uses a refurbished bus as its mobile writing center to teach creative writing to Greenville County students. Again, Mellor credits her internship experience with giving her the confidence to become a mentor to the students she visits in her travels with the writing program.
Even with her goals of working for a large multinational company, Mellor’s immediate focus is the Greenville community. “In a lot of my classes, we’re exploring facets of the [local] community,” she says. “What I’m learning in the classroom is applicable for this community.” She is currently interviewing with several advertising agencies in Greenville. Wherever her future takes her, Mellor’s commitment to engaging with the local community will go with her, in no small part because of her experiences as a Furman student.