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Five Bulldogs Earned Experiential Learning Opportunities During Spring Semester

STARKVILLE – As an effort to offer professional opportunities, five Mississippi State student-athletes were selected and completed a Bulldogs Experiential Learning Internship (BELI) through the Student-Athlete Development Office during the spring semester.

The five student-athletes who participated in BELI this semester were cross country’s Ashley Melcherts (Counseling and Sports Psychology), football’s Jaylon Reed (Bulldog Sports Properties), volleyball’s Margaret Dean (Compliance), and track and field’s Caroline Standley (Communications) and Zoe Brito (Creative Strategy).

“This opportunity allows MSU student-athletes to gain tangible, valuable, real-world work experience within the athletics department,” Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Development Briana Vaughn said. “Most student-athletes are pulled so many different ways due to their rigorous schedules. BELI provides a chance for them to do an internship in different departments and is a great way for Mississippi State to aid in the professional development of our student-athletes throughout their athletic career.”

The internship process began in January and lasted the entire semester. Nearly all of the participants were also actively competing this spring while also taking a full academic workload. At the end, all five student-athletes gave presentations about their duties while on the internship, what they learned from the experience and how they can apply that knowledge to their career aspirations. Here is a breakdown of each student-athlete’s internship.

Ashley Melcherts | Cross Country | Counseling and Sports Psychology

Becoming the first ever student-athlete to intern in the office, Melcherts joined the Counseling and Sports Psychology department this spring. Her duties in the role included creating infographics and marketing content for events as well as proposing actions plans for engaging with student-athletes.

“Being in the Counseling and Sports Psychology department was really valuable considering my background in social sciences already,” Melcherts said. “I was heavily involved with the marketing side of things. This opportunity is going to help me a lot in my career. Anytime you get a chance to work with new people and develop new skills, it’s always going to be valuable to you. Given the social sciences side of things, it was really a great spot for me.”

Melcherts boasts a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is currently working on her master’s degree in the same field. She plans to pursue her PhD after graduation.

Jaylon Reed | Football | Bulldog Sports Properties – Learfield IMG College

Already a member of the MSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as well as the SEC Football Leadership Council, Reed added to his resumé this spring by interning with Bulldog Sports Properties – Learfield IMG College, becoming the first MSU student-athlete to ever intern with the department.

Along with going through spring practice and taking 21 hours of classes, Reed learned about the behind-the-scenes partnerships and advertisements that are associated with sporting events. His success in the role earned him the opportunity to join the office for a sales pitch with multiple clients.

“I didn’t know what Learfield IMG College was before my internship, but once I met everyone in the office and started working with them, they are everywhere but nowhere,” Reed said. “To explain, they are involved in almost everything that goes on in college athletics. From marketing to ticket sales to the radio shows that they write scripts for, they are everywhere. They also work with ads and sponsorships. I went to a sales pitch and was able to learn the value of listening to clients and understanding what they want, what they want in return and what they are willing to spend. With everything else I had going on this semester, this experience also taught me discipline and time management. I worked hard to commit all my energy to everything.”

Margaret Dean | Volleyball | Compliance

Interning with the compliance office, Dean worked on transfer eligibility evaluations, helped monitor practice logs, updated the compliance website, made educational graphics and assisted with the office’s Twitter account.

“I wasn’t anticipating going into compliance, because I was actually wanting to do a strength internship but couldn’t do that because of time constraints,” Dean said. “I ended up in compliance, and I think this actually helped me grow more than a strength internship would have. I want to be a coach after college, and I got to see a lot of the really nitty gritty, ins and outs of what goes on between coaches and the administrative side of keeping athletes eligible as well as understanding the NCAA rulebook. This really helped me so much.”

Caroline Standley | Track & Field | Communications

Standley spent her spring semester with the communications office. She assisted with gameday operations in communications, helping with stats, updating rosters on the website and managing social media. She also earned the chance to write a feature story about Riley Self from baseball for HailState.com.

“This was a good work experience for me, especially considering it’s really hard to have an internship as a student-athlete normally,” Standley said. “Time management was a big skill I learned, being able to juggle athletics, school and an internship. It was great to be able to get this experience in a workplace that I can carry on into my career. I really enjoyed seeing what all goes into a gameday experience beyond the field.”

The junior holds the MSU freshman record for furthest throw (43.98 meters). She also placed inside the top three of the event during each of the last two Bulldog Relays. When she wasn’t competing in the 2021 Bulldog Relays, she was working the event in communications.

Zoe Brito | Track & Field | Creative Strategy – Graphic Design

Majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing, Brito chose to work in the graphic design office for creative strategy. She worked four hours per week, completing various marketing/social media, learning how to use Photoshop and other Adobe Suite products and creating posters/wallpapers for the MSU tennis and track programs.

“This was a really great opportunity to learn design and understand how that can be applied in a marketing environment,” Brito said. “I really felt like learning the design software was something that would be beneficial for my future as technology continues to move forward. I am glad I got the opportunity to learn it now, and I’m so thankful that it was related to sports because that is my passion. I am glad I got to do this internship so early in my collegiate career and have this experience for the future. I would definitely recommend BELI to any student-athlete. It was a great experience.”

For the most up-to-date information, follow MSU Student-Athlete Development on Twitter by searching for “HailStateSADev.”