Successful internship paved the way

Rachel Sieracke ’16 is an event coordinator in the nation’s capital

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By Bob Cunningham

Rachel Sieracke signed a contract for a job two days before she graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science in Tourism, Leisure and Event Planning (TLEP) in May 2016.

Sieracke, who also minored in marketing, had met her goal of gaining employment before she finished her collegiate career, but her achievement didn’t come without a lot of hard work outside the classroom — most notably a summer internship in Washington, D.C., leading into her senior year.

While helping out at a BGSU Alumni Association event, she networked with a few members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni group. They introduced her to David Hainline ’83, CEO of CSI DMC, an event management company with multiple locations across the United States. Hainline asked Sieracke to send in her resume for a possible internship possibility in Washington, D.C. 

“I did just that: I sent my resume, had an interview and got the internship,” said Sieracke, who is from Lindenhurst, Ill., about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. “That summer, I moved to D.C. for three months, interned with CSI, loved it and went back to BGSU for my senior year.”

Sieracke had made a lot of friends during her internship at CSI, and kept in contact with them during her senior year. 

“So, when a position opened up, they knew I was interested and they reached out to me because they knew I knew the company,” she said. “They knew my skill sets, so it worked out that the exact job that I was hoping for opened up.”

As an event coordinator at the Washington office, Sieracke said she does everything from helping out with large events — from $100,000 to more than $1 million — to planning her own events, which might be a tour or a private dinner. 

“I do corporate event planning, which is a very broad range,” she said. “It’s kind of all over the board, like having a dinner in the Air and Space Museum or a big event at the American Indian Museum. We do tours of the Capitol all the time. I definitely am in a very unique place where you don’t find those opportunities in most other places.” 

Sieracke said she gave it her all during her internship, and is grateful that her hard work paid dividends.

“They told me they wouldn’t have hired me if I didn’t blow them out of the water during my internship,” she said. “Hard work really does pay off and internships are extremely important. I packed my bags and moved to D.C., which I never thought I’d do, but I did and it paid off. Now, I love it there.”

Sieracke already is paying it forward, sharing her secret to success with BGSU undergraduate students.

“I tell them: Don’t waste your time on an internship that isn’t going to give you a future possibility for employment,” she said. “It’s great to explore your options and if you find out through your internship that it isn’t something you want to do, that’s great. But if it’s something you really want to do, work really hard at it and then it could pay off in the long run.” 

When Sieracke was looking at colleges, she knew she was interested in a career in the hospitality industry. Bowing Green was on her short list.

“It was between Bowling Green and one other school, and I received much more scholarships from Bowling Green,” she said. “I visited both schools on one weekend and I left going, ‘wow, I love Bowling Green’s campus, I want to go to Bowling Green.’ The scholarships definitely helped out with that decision as well.

“There aren’t a lot of hospitality programs in the Midwest, or in the budget that my family had set for my college education, but after doing the research with Bowling Green, it was definitely a smart decision.”

Sieracke credited her mentors and opportunities for experiential learning at BGSU for being prepared to enter her career field upon graduation. 

“I am very grateful for the TLEP program and Greg Dickerson, specifically,” she said. “He is a blessing for that program. I would not be where I am today without him. Kim Jacobs, the associate director of alumni and events, she’s been one of my greatest role models throughout college after working with her. I think Bowling Green gives you the opportunities to make something great of yourself; you just have to take the opportunities. Obviously, the classwork is great and I learned a lot.”

In addition to her internships with CSI and the alumni association, Sieracke worked for the Center of Leadership during her senior year. She helped out with the Women of Distinction award ceremony and the President’s Leadership Academy banquet. She also was the vice president of the University Activities Organization. 

“I definitely learned a lot from the program, but I think one of the best things about the program is, you’re required to have an internship and two practicums to graduate,” she said. “That’s where I gained all of my confidence and all of my true skill sets.”