The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program offers a very select group of students a unique hands-on business experience in the motorsports industry.
Behind the scenes at the recent Coke Zero Sugar 400 annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Daytona Beach, two Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University College of Business students and an Embry-Riddle grad were learning the ropes as part of their summer internship.
In addition to working weekdays in the Human Resources, Finance and Partnership Marketing departments at NASCAR headquarters and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), this past week they were across the street at the Daytona International Speedway, helping with everything from tours for fans and VIP partners, to gathering driver autographs for charity fundraisers.
Genesis Acosta, Sally Chung and Asia Hirschenson were selected along with 30 other top students from across the country to participate in the 10-week NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP).
The largest class since the program’s inception in 2000, the internship program offers a select group of students a unique hands-on experience in the motorsports industry. With several industry partners, the program continues to provide career opportunities and is considered one of the premier internships in sports.
The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is open to college sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate-level students. The program provides opportunities to multicultural students from all majors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
“What I’m doing now is exactly what I want to do. I’m trying to soak in as much as I can,” said Hirschenson, who graduated last fall with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Embry–Riddle’s College of Business. She has loved motorsports since she first started going to Grand Prix races with her dad. “The NASCAR diversity program has done an amazing job getting us involved in as much as possible.”
Throughout the program, interns interact with industry professionals, including at networking events and lunch-and-learns led by NASCAR executives. The interns also have access to mentors and program alumni currently working at NASCAR and partner organizations.
The students and grad from Embry-Riddle attended the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on July 7, and had their orientation earlier in their internship at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where they visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame and attended the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race in May.
Hirschenson is interning with Partnership Marketing for ISC, which owns the Daytona International Speedway and 12 additional major motorsports entertainment facilities. ISC is a sister company to NASCAR and has been a long time partner of the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. Hirschenson’s been helping to prepare assets for upcoming races and working on a sales assessment of ISC’s motorsports facilities and says the internship is her dream job. From Weston, near Fort Lauderdale, her father was a collector of Corvettes and Vipers and loved working on cars, which she also learned, including welding.
While at Embry-Riddle, she helped the ERAU Motorsports program and the Formula SAE racecar team with posts to social media and their website as the partnership marketing and digital marketing lead.
“I have a passion for motorsports and enjoy working in a fast-paced environment,” Hirschenson said. “ERAU Motorsports taught me so many skills and really pushed me to follow what I enjoy and now I’m trying to make it into a career.”
Chung is learning real–life budgeting with the ISC finance department, analyzing comparisons between forecasts and actual performance and project financials over the long-term.
“I really get to see how what I’ve learned in school and how projects I’ve worked on really benefits me in the corporate life,” Chung said.
Chung, who is from Mexico City, will be a senior in the fall and is majoring in Business Administration with a specialization in Finance and Accounting in the College of Business. Inspired by her brother, an Embry-Riddle alumnus who is a pilot for a Korean airline, Jin Air, she came to Embry-Riddle to study business and the aviation industry, but the internship has her also considering motorsports.
Having never attended a motorsports race prior to the internship, she said it was amazing and entertaining to watch the Coke Zero Sugar 400 from the infield and now that she has more insight into the sport, she hopes she can get a future job for a NASCAR affiliate in Mexico City when she graduates.
While Acosta plans to work in human resources in the airline industry, she said her internship with the Human Resources department at NASCAR and ISC fits her well because she’s always been fascinated with fast machines including those found in aviation, motorsports and watersports.
Acosta has a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Business Administration and is seeking a master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in aviation systems. She has been helping with training, employee engagement and employee retention and recruiting. While she had attended two NASCAR races in the past, she now understands how each race is different and she has met some of the drivers.
“Seeing people hyped up about the race made me hyped up. It’s been fun to be a part of it,” she said.
Many interns selected for the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program have been hired as full-time employees and are helping to lead NASCAR into the future, according to Paula Miller, NASCAR senior vice president and chief human resources officer.
“NASCAR is committed to enhancing diversity both on and off the track and the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has opened doors for hundreds of students to explore a career in motorsports,” Miller said.
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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.