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Hilgendorf racking up knowledge, experience with Little Rock Marathon

August 7, 2013
By cnp
Posted in Communication Studies

Last summer, Max Hilgendorf earned "goddess" status during his short internship with the Little Rock Marathon. This summer, he was invited back as a full-time, paid intern, and he took full advantage of all the opportunities that came his way.

Hilgendorf, a rising senior, strategic communication major, and cross country runner from Fort Smith, Ark., spent his summer working with the marathon’s operations director Gina Pharis and marketing/promotions director Geneva Hamilton as they prepared for the 12th annual Little Rock Marathon, scheduled for March 2014.

"There was no typical day at our office," Hilgendorf explained. "We all relied on each other to make sure that everything was covered, but I did a lot of writing press releases and promotional pieces. The event world is different than any other sector of the business world. You are constantly on the go."

During the summer, Hilgendorf also participated in the making of a promotional video for the marathon.

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Max Hilgendorf (right), a senior strategic communication major at Ozarks, is spending the summer interning for the Little Rock Marathon. One of the projects he worked on was production of the marathon "theme" video, which can be found on the marathon’s YouTube channel at 2014 Little Rock Marathon theme unveiling.

"Every year, we have a theme for the marathon. The theme is kept top secret until the video is finished. This year’s theme was ‘Epic.’ I actually had a little input into some of the ideas that went into the video, and I got to act in it, which I wasn’t expecting," Hilgendorf said.

Hilgendorf has learned the ins and outs of event planning, budgeting, and promotion during his summers with the Little Rock Marathon, but his favorite part of this summer came as a surprise to him.

"Because of construction, the marathon route will have to be reworked for 2015. Gina Pharis, our operations director, had been working on restructuring the course. One day, she came in, handed the plans to me and said, ‘See what you can do with this,’" Hilgendorf said.

As it turns out, Hilgendorf’s ideas were received with enthusiasm and he began working with Pharis to get his course changes approved for the 2015 race.

"It is rare for an intern to have so much input into the design of a course. It’s a great feeling to know that in 2015 the marathon could be held on a course I designed," Hilgendorf said.

Hilgendorf plans to continue working through the school year with the Little Rock Marathon as part of his senior internship and capstone project, and eventually hopes to pursue a career with the Little Rock Marathon or a similar venture.

"I have learned so much this summer. My niche is public relations and marketing, but I’ve learned a lot about logistics and operations that has been invaluable. I’ve been blessed that educational experiences at Ozarks and my time with the Little Rock Marathon have complimented each other so well," Hilgendorf said.

"Ozarks most definitely prepared me well," he added. "My strategic communication classes have been great, but the most valuable lessons you learn don’t necessarily have anything to do with coursework, like problem-solving skills. Ozarks has taught me to think the way I have to think."