The 500 Festival Internship Program allows hard working, passionate students to experience the Month of May in Indy in a new and exciting way. The 500 Festival interns are fully immersed in the Month of May, producing some of the world’s most exciting and large-scale events. From the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, to the 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, to the IPL 500 Festival Parade, the 500 Festival interns work hard to plan and execute life-enriching events that celebrate the spirit of the Indianapolis 500. The 2020 500 Festival Intern class is comprised of 11 talented students, representing 7 different universities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2020 intern class was unable to experience the full 500 Festival event season. However, the 500 Festival interns remained positive and hardworking throughout every challenge faced. As the 2020 internship program is coming to a close, check out what some of the interns had to say as they reflect on their experience as a 500 Festival intern: 

Connor: My Experience with the 500 Festival during this crazy time has been nothing short of amazing. Before the stay at home orders were placed, was able to go out and see a couple of schools and help kids learn about the 500 Festival who aren’t from around Indy. Getting to see their smiles and excitement for the 500 Festival really makes you enjoy what you are doing! Getting to work the Miler Series 3 and 6 Miler events were also great experiences. Having the opportunity to work my first athletic events rather than playing them was a nice change. I couldn’t be more thankful for the 500 Festival and staff. 

Casey: My time at the 500 Festival has been nothing short of exciting and educational. I have had the opportunity to work side by side with some of the brightest minds I have ever had the pleasure of working with. From my first day in the 500 Festival offices, I knew that I was in for a memorable experience as a 500 Festival intern. I loved every minute of working with my fellow interns and 500 Festival staff members to plan, organize, and coordinate 500 Festival events. When I look back on my experience as a 500 Festival intern, I will happily remember the incredible people I worked with every day, and I will love reflecting on the experiences I shared with them as we all worked together to enrich lives through 500 Festival events. The 500 Festival truly operates as a unified and dedicated team of passionate individuals. Anyone would be lucky to be a 500 Festival intern.  

Madison: My experience as an intern with 500 Festival was amazing! The rise of COVID-19 definitely presented us with challenges and though we were upset we would not get to execute the month of May events; I am so glad we were able to work and attend two of the races in the miler series. I am also so grateful the 500 Festival staff has gone out of their way to still teach us and mentor us in these challenging times. They always made sure to let us know that they care about our success and it definitely shows. Overall, I am so proud to say I got the opportunity to intern with an organization that cares so much for their community as well as their team! 

Trenton: The season did not go as expected, but it was overall an experience I will never forget. I was able work with so many great members of the 500 Festival staff and I was thrown into a fantastic group of interns who will go on to do amazing things. I had a really beneficial experience being able to learn how an organization responds to a global pandemic and the tough decision-making that comes with it. My internship was very unique and I had a lot of fun being a part of such a great organization. 

Michael: While my experience with the 500 Festival was shortened due to the pandemic, I am very grateful for the experiences and friends that I made along the way. It was certainly a struggle at times as the 500 Festival places a great deal of responsibility on its interns, but I felt that the pressure to perform pushed me to become a better employee over time. The Leadership Development Program, presented by BKD, was a very creative way for me to learn more about the 500 Festival staff, my fellow interns, and most importantly, myself. It was disappointing that I could not see the month of May in action, but I am glad that the organization allowed me to keep working from home. There is no doubt that the 500 Festival cares greatly for its staff and interns. 

Gabrielle: My internship with the 500 Festival has been an incredible learning experience in contract negotiation, fulfillment, activation, and partner communication. My supervisor, Josh, was an incredible boss and trusted me to dive into projects and ideas head-on, allowing me to gain the valuable experience I was looking for as I pursue a career in this industry. Being able to work with Josh and Pat has been a masterclass not only in sponsorship but in what true leadership looks like, especially during the uncertainty of COVID-19. I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience and opportunity to learn from an incredible team of event professionals and industry leaders! 

Jule: I had such a great experience as an intern at the 500 Festival. Even given the situation, I really enjoyed the events we took part in, as well as working with the other interns. It was also remarkable how the 500 Festival handled the situation during this pandemic, keeping the organization going and interesting for the internship program. All in all, it was a hands-on experience mixed with a professional development training, where you can make important connections and work together with a great team of staff and other interns. 

Emily: Although this internship has looked different from past years, I am so grateful for this experience! From day one, the 500 Festival Staff was very welcoming to the interns which made it easy to work alongside everyone. I had a blast working the two events I was lucky enough to experience and am sad that this year’s remaining events were postponed outside the internship. Throughout this internship I worked on exciting projects, learned so many valuable lessons, and gained an amazing mentor. I will definitely come back and volunteer for any 500 Festival events and support this amazing organization!

Ryan: My experiences as an intern at the 500 Festival surely were not what I was expecting, just like everyone else, but it was a great learning experience. Being able to be a part of the events industry during a global pandemic allowed all of the interns to learn some valuable skills. We were able to brainstorm some good ideas that were implemented to allow us to have successful virtual events for our participants. It was difficult to see how beautiful of a day May 2nd was and not have the Mini-Marathon, but it was so great to see all the virtual results roll in that day. I was able to form some great friendships and connections through this position, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work at the 500 Festival. 

Kathleen: My experience as a 500 Festival Intern has been nothing short of unforgettable. I was given the opportunity to work on meaningful projects that truly impacted the organization. I loved being able to take what I have learned in the classroom at Purdue and apply it to real world scenarios. I was also able to work with and learn from the most incredible team of 500 Festival staff and my fellow interns. The 500 Festival not only upholds its values of enriching and impacting lives within the community, but within the organization as well. With the transition to working remotely and holding virtual events, the staff continued to be intentional to ensure the interns felt valued and our work stayed meaningful. I will forever be grateful for all that I have learned, the mentors I have gained, and the friendships I have made within the 500 Festival. 

Alyssa: This internship experience has been nothing like what I was expecting, but it has definitely been memorable and unique! I have learned so much about the event industry from the 500 Festival staff, even during a global pandemic. I’m so thankful for the events I did get to experience and the volunteers I was fortunate enough to work with. Overall, I have loved my time with 500 Festival as the Volunteer Program Intern and will gladly volunteer with this organization whenever I get a chance!

Though May looks a little different this year, you can still celebrate all that is the Month of May from your own home! Discover A New Way to May with fun activities and resources for the whole family to celebrate the spirit of May, your favorite 500 Festival events, and of course, the Indianapolis 500!