Steele Internship experience carries over into professional career

Written by: Kristen Gowdy

I didn’t find bobsled and skeleton until much later, but a career-altering summer in Cooperstown put me on the right path.

Arriving in Cooperstown the Steele Internship Program in the Communications Department at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was like being a kid again, sitting in left field, eating a hot dog and watching a game with wide eyes. I had been to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame before – my brother Kevin, who is now in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, had played in two tournaments at the Dreams Park when we were younger. But working in Cooperstown, at the Hall of Fame, was different. I learned something new about baseball every day. I was immediately entrenched in the game’s history and I, a diehard Red Sox fan, became more appreciative of its history as a whole.

But something else changed within me that summer as well. When I began attending Ithaca College in the fall of 2012 as a journalism major, I assumed that my career path was bound to journalism. Writing was – and is – my passion, particularly telling the stories of others through sport.

At the same time, I had grown up around sports, especially baseball. I spent many childhood summer afternoons sitting in the muggy heat of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, where my dad was raised. We’d go to as many games as we could every summer vacation, and the game – with all of its sights, sounds, and smells – quickly became one of my favorite writing topics.

In 2017, Kristen Gowdy attended the The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Championships on behalf of USA Bobsled & Skeleton. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

I found the work I was doing at the Hall each day to be just as, if not more, enjoyable than the journalism to which I was accustomed. My boss, Hall of Fame director of communications Craig Muder, made sure I was learning every day and assigned me tasks that allowed me to grow as a professional. Along with helping to plan the 2014 Induction Ceremony, I also got to write weekly articles for the Hall of Fame’s website, manage media requests, and interact with Major League Baseball personnel. One of the highlights of my summer was writing the centerpiece Induction article for the Memories and Dreams magazine.

I would end up taking all of these skills – and much, much more – to my current job. I began working as the Media and Marketing Assistant at USA Bobsled & Skeleton two months before I graduated from Ithaca in May 2016, and for the past two years, I have been part of the federation’s preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, which I leave for in a month. My duties in planning for the Olympics have directly correlated with my duties in my internship at the Hall of Fame, and I could not be more grateful to the Hall of Fame and Craig for these skills.

Kristen Gowdy has been working at USA Bobsled & Skeleton since 2016. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

There have been deeper parallels as well. I was at the Hall the summer that Tony Gwynn died. Two years later, when Steven Holcomb, the greatest American bobsledder of all time, unexpectedly passed away, the professionalism I learned at the Hall following Gwynn’s passing applied during one of the most difficult and trying times of my life.

Nearly four years later, my internship continues to play a part in my life. Living in Lake Placid, N.Y., I have done my best to return to Cooperstown to visit and volunteer as much as possible. The Steele Internship is a family, and I have kept in close touch with not only interns from my class, but also interns from previous years, as well as Craig, Hall of Fame director of education Stephanie Hazzard, and some of the other full-time staff members at the Hall. Every time I come back, I’m welcomed with open arms, and it’s as though I never left.

The Steele Internship is something that I cannot recommend enough to those with a passion for learning and a desire for hands-on experience. In it, I found lifelong friends, opened my eyes to new opportunities, gained skills that apply daily to my current position, and discovered a completely new career path.

That summer was the best of my life, and I think about and draw upon it often as I navigate the professional world.

Kristen Gowdy was the 2014 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

Apply for the 2018 Steele Internship Program here