A 2010 graduate of Vista Murrieta High School, Ashley Mackey, who went on to attend and play women's tennis for the University of Montana, spent the summer in New York City working as an intern for the United States Tennis Association, according to information shared with Patch.
The University of Montana shared the following interview with Mackey regarding the six-week adventure she had while living in the Big Apple and interning for UTSA as it prepared for its most important annual event, the two-week U.S. Open.
Mackey, a journalism major, is the daughter of Alfonso and Yvonne Mackey. She has a younger brother, Ashton Mackey.
How did this opportunity come about?
I have a cousin who lives in New York. I’ve always wanted to spend some time there, so I was looking for things to do. I found the opportunity to work for the USTA online. I applied and then had two interviews by phone. They called me two days before the internship started and said I had been accepted, so I had to hurry and buy a ticket.
How long did the internship last, and what were your duties?
It started June 24 and ended Aug. 2, so it was a six-week program. There were 12 of us. It was the first time the USTA has done it, so we were the inaugural class.
Depending on your skills, they put you in different departments. There were some who worked in finance and marketing. I worked in the Learning and Leadership Development department and USTA Serves.
USTA Serves works on raising money to give back in the form of scholarships and grants and to fund tennis and learning programs in underdeveloped areas of cities.
One of my jobs was to write stories on the scholarship recipients and some of the programs that were being run. They also have a big event called the Opening Night Gala that they run every year before the Open. I worked on sending out invitations, and I ran their Facebook and Twitter pages to help promote the event.
When I was with Learning and Leadership Development, I put together a multimedia project to help train the volunteers they were going to have for the U.S. Open.
How did your education and experiences at Montana help prepare you for the internship?
I’m a journalism major, so the reporting and writing skills I’ve picked up helped with being able to write stories about the scholarship recipients and other programs that they fund.
And you’ve got to put your communications skills to work, because you need to be able to work with new people in a new environment and be open to learning new things.
Also networking. The journalism school does a good job of showing us how to network and get our names out there.
What was the most rewarding part of the entire experience?
Just being able to be in New York. I had never been to New York, and it’s just a totally different atmosphere and type of energy. I liked that the most about it.
What was the biggest surprise about New York on your first visit to the city?
My biggest surprise was how similar it is to the way television shows and movies depict the city. The hustle and bustle and how people describe New Yorkers. Not necessarily rude, but always needing to go somewhere fast. I was surprised at how accurate that was.
What was the most challenging part of the internship?
I would say the hours. It was 9 to 5, five days a week, so it was a full day. It wasn’t necessarily hard to do the work. It was more not having the time or energy to do much of anything afterwards.
What were some things outside of work that you were able to experience?
I got to play on one of the U.S. Open courts and walk through the players’ locker room and go all around the grounds (of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center) when they gave the interns a tour.
I got to go to a Yankees game. I got to go to the Barclays Center (in Brooklyn) and see Beyonce. And I got to shop. There was a lot of shopping done.
It was really nice living there for that amount of time, because I felt like I became more than just a tourist.
What court did you get to hit on?
Court 17. It’s one of the stadium courts. I played a few games of 21 with a colleague. We played for a couple of hours. It was very empowering. I’m sure it’s nothing like if the stadium is packed, but it was still like, Wow, pros have played here. It was big time.
Who was the most famous person you ran into or met?
I didn’t run into any famous people. I saw Beyonce, that’s about it. I was on the second tier, so not too far from the stage.
Did the internship change what you see yourself doing after graduation next spring?
I got to network with some people in PR and communications, and I got to meet some of the broadcast people, and they want me to keep in touch, so that’s always good. They wanted me to stay and work the Open, but it started the day school started here, so I had to come back to Missoula.
But they invited me to come back when I’m done with school, so that’s what I plan on doing next summer. I’ll be back working with the LLD, and they want me to work with their volunteers some more and help train them to work the U.S. Open. Then I’ll probably give tours during the U.S. Open.
That means I’ll have access to courtside seats, so that will be pretty cool.
What was your favorite moment of the internship?
I would say the first time I stepped foot in (22,547-seat) Arthur Ashe Stadium. It’s a huge stadium. It’s just crazy how big it is.
Where did you live during the internship?
With my cousin in Harlem. Madison and 125th. The USTA headquarters is in White Plains, so that’s where I worked. I also worked a day or two at the National Tennis Center, which is about 20 minutes from headquarters.
How did you get around the city?
The subway system. It was kind of intimidating at first, because there are so many lines. But they have maps that tell you where you’re going, so it wasn’t too bad. I got the hang of it. It’s a pretty efficient way to go, and it’s only $2.50, which is way cheaper than the gas you’d use.
You’re from the Los Angeles area. What city is better, New York or LA?
I prefer LA because it’s home. I like the New York energy and lifestyle, but I feel like it would be exhausting to live there. I’m more of a chilled and relaxed type of person, and that’s the kind of vibe LA has. I could probably do New York for a few years if I got a job, but for long term it would have to be LA.
A photo gallery of Mackey's NYC experience can be viewed on GoGriz.com.