By Viktoria Rock, Franklin College ’20
Marketing & Video Production Intern
In October of 2019, I went to an internship fair at Franklin College with a marketing or communications internship in mind.
I was able to shake hands with a few individuals, but couldn’t quite find a good fit for me until I went to Cornerstone’s table.
After meeting Morgan McClellan, a Franklin College graduate and Marketing Coordinator at Cornerstone Autism Center, I felt a step closer to what I was looking for.
My involvement with Franklin College’s Best Buddies chapter helped me connect with Cornerstone’s mission for individuals with autism. I saw the purpose of Cornerstone through the lens of some of my own experiences and involvement with individuals with autism. Though I wasn’t well versed in my knowledge of autism, it was really neat to share that connection and feel like I could be a valuable contributor to Cornerstone’s mission in some way through marketing.
Two months later, I was walking into Cornerstone as a Marketing and Video Production Intern.
Right away, I started to film clips, plan and edit scripts for a fundraiser called Coast to Coast for Autism. Coast to Coast for Autism is fundraiser partnering with a nonprofit organization called, 4 Paws for Ability. 4 Paws trains dogs to be service dogs for children with autism, veterans and other individuals who are facing mobility challenges. Ken Weadick, co-founder of Cornerstone Autism Center, is leading the fundraiser by driving his new 2020 Jeep across the country on the Transamerica Trail. This will be a four to six week trip during this summer. The attention this special Coast to Coast trip generates, will be documented as Ken raises money to provide a family of a child with autism, means to have a service dog.
After planning the fundraising video, each day around the center, I was working with Ken and my supervisor on capturing clips that would best tell the mission of the Coast to Coast trip. I was also able to interview and film a family who has a service dog for their son Zac. By doing this, the fundraising video would provide a first-hand testimony on the benefits of having a service dog for children with autism. In this particular case, Zac’s dog Mandrake, was trained to help Zac walk to and from a car and up the stairs to Cornerstone. I was able to capture this important part of story through video.
After spending a month at Cornerstone Autism Center, I thoroughly enjoyed the responsibilities of marketing. There are a lot of little details I didn’t necessarily know, but my supervisor was very helpful and open to guiding me and giving me the freedom to come up with ideas. She was very detailed and made sure to let me know what she was thinking and where she wanted me to go. It was refreshing to work with a Franklin graduate, as well as seeing several Franklin graduates as ABA therapists around the center.
I also got to shadow an ABA therapist for an hour and see firsthand the interactions and exercises the therapists go through with their clients. Watching it from the outside helped me understand what kinds of things are happening every day at Cornerstone and how important these interactions and stories of successes are to Cornerstone and to the parents of the children there. This was a unique experience that taught me how important the progress is of a child no matter how big or small. Every step is celebrated and I can tell the therapist’s focus is aligned with Cornerstone’s mission.
My favorite day at Cornerstone was on a Friday afternoon when a few Star Wars characters, including R2-D2, came to Polk to visit the kids. I was able to capture this day through some photos and video clips. I could feel the excitement of the children as I am a big Star Wars fan myself. It was an awesome experience seeing the kids come up to the characters, give hi-fives, hugs, and take in what was around them. The interactions in the room were enough to make you smile just watching it all.
I wish my time at Cornerstone exceeded a month. Not only were the projects fitting to the elements of my public relations and visual communications degree, but I saw how inviting and genuine the staff were on a day to day basis. It made coming to Cornerstone something you wanted to do each day. People really care about what they’re doing here.
For anyone interested in interning at Cornerstone Autism Center, I would only say this, take it in. Learn something new every day. Do things outside your comfort zone. Listen well and work hard. Last but certainty not least, smile. Everyone here knows how to do that, even if it takes some time, everyone here can smile and that is a very great thing.
Watch the full coast to coast video here!
January 30, 2020, Morgan McClellan