Internship leads to appreciation for convention, visitors bureaus

Michelle “Shelly” Painter, a senior hospitality and tourism major, is interning at Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

As with a lot of students at Western Carolina University, Michelle “Shelly” Painter needed to fulfill an internship in order to meet her requirements to graduate in May.

But the hospitality and tourism management major didn’t want just any internship. Painter wanted something different than what her classmates were doing.

“I hadn’t heard of any of my classmates working with a convention and visitors bureau, but we talk about CVBs in our classes so I was very interested in going into that kind of business,” she  said.

After reaching out to CVBs in Asheville and Waynesville, Painter was offered an internship for the spring semester with Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Since January, Painter, a senior from Lincolnton, has spent each Tuesday and Thursday learning the ins and outs of working at a CVB.

“So far, it’s been really great,” she said. “They definitely needed a few extra hands. I’ve had a lot of very applicable experience there. I’ve been able to network with people that I would’ve never been able to meet without this internship.”

Painter added that she is now able to see what she’s learned in the classroom as it relates to the workplace. She has gained experience working with Explore Asheville’s sales, marketing and public affairs teams.

Working at a CVB, Painter said she has enjoyed helping local businesses and entrepreneurs. She also likes the variety of work within the three departments.

“I was able to go with one of our senior sales managers to a wedding trade show,” Painter said. “I thought that was really interesting. A lot of people from all over came to Asheville to look at what we have to offer.

“I’ve been able to put together details of site visits and other trips that people are coming into Asheville for. I’ve also helped the marketing team, whenever they go on media tours, put together publicity packets and press releases.”

While Painter said she could see herself working at a CVB in the future, she already has lined up a job after she graduates in May. Painter will work with Carolina Crown, a drum and bugle corps based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, in operations and tour management.

She worked with Carolina Crown last summer, touring with the group while doing administrative work.

“That was so much fun,” Painter said. “I’m very interested in the music industry. It was a lot of really hard work, but it was a lot of fun. I’m really excited to be taking on a little more responsibility this coming year and be able to give back a little of what I’ve already learned.”