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Ask the Cougar

Taking Charge

Sarah Vining, Class of 2010

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Sarah Vining was approaching her last semester at the College. This South Carolina native was home free. She had enough credits to graduate with a degree in corporate communications and a minor in studio art. But before entering the working world, she wanted to squeeze in one, last internship, preferably in another city. She started thinking outside the box. Well, make that outside the continent.

Sarah soon lined up an internship in Hawaii, helping marketing and technology firm Team Vision launch 3DHawaii, a travel resource in which popular hotels, restaurants and tourist sites are promoted on a self-guided, 3-D tour of the Hawaiian Islands. When She wasn’t enjoying paradise, she helped manage a database of popular attractions, tagging relevant photos and videos in preparation for 3DHawaii’s launch.

In terms of a résumé-builder, though, the Hawaii internship was simply icing on the cake for this aspiring public relations and advertising professional. During her sophomore year at the College, Sarah interned at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, earning experience in public relations writing. Then, she interned with breast cancer education and awareness organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure, tremendously increasing the College’s participation in the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event, which raises money for breast cancer research and honors those affected by breast cancer. Sarah enlisted support from a number of campus organizations, including 10 Greek organizations and her own sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. College participation in the event increased by more than 700 percent from the previous year, and Sarah helped raise more than $10,000 in just three months.

“It was amazing,” she says, “to work as a liaison between my sorority and Susan G. Komen.”

The inspiration for so much meaningful preprofessional work, she says, was a trip she took to Atlanta with the College’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. There, students and professors met with employees of communications firm Fleishman-Hillard, who advised students to have three internships under their belt by graduation. Sarah took their advice to heart, and got working immediately to fit internships around her class schedule.

Her hard work and ambition has not gone unnoticed. Paul Vannatta, chairman of Charleston’s Race for the Cure and a vice president for Merrill Lynch, credited Sarah with brainstorming creative ideas to increase participation in the event and implementing them with success.

“It’s leadership,” Vannatta says. “She put together all the ideas and marketed it herself. That, to me, is rare these days.”