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An AKC Education: Memories from the 2003 and 2004 internship programs
By Kristy Siefkin

My involvement in the world of pure-bred dogs began at age 9 when I joined a local 4-H dog care and training club in an attempt to “tame” my 105 pound German Shepherd Dog, Bruin. At my first 4-H obedience class, I hoped that Bruin would not knock me to the ground and run out of the ring. One year later, Bruin and I walked away from our first 4-H Dog Show having won first prize and High in Trial. That initial taste of success inspired me to pursue dog training as a full-time hobby, perpetuating my involvement in canine search and rescue training, guide dog training, therapy dog training, and eventually showing in AKC Conformation and Jr. Showmanship classes.

Once I began showing in the AKC, I could not get enough of all that was “AKC”. I read every book, watched every video and traveled to as many AKC shows as possible. I even applied for and was granted my provisional judging license for Jr. Showmanship competition. When I learned that the AKC was offering internship opportunities to AKC Juniors, I was thrilled. In June of 2003, I began interning with the PR and Communications Department at the AKC Corporate Office in NYC and my education about the organization grew exponentially from that point forward.

My training as an intern included an 8 week new employee education program which included presentations from employees representing all facets of the organization. While these presentations shed new light on AKC philosophy and protocol, my most memorable and valuable education came from the hands on work that I did as an intern to the PR and Communications Department in the summer and fall of 2003 and as an intern to the CEO in the summer of 2004.

My charge as a communications intern in 2003 was to promote and publicize both long standing and fledgling AKC programs in order to educate the public. My experiences in public speaking and public education served me well throughout my endeavors as an intern, as I was constantly called upon to pitch story ideas to media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites) and convince reporters and writers to share AKC stories with the public. The breadth of my projects was considerable, ranging from writing press releases and media alerts, to pitching story ideas to Good Morning America and Lifetime Magazine, to traveling to participate in a news segment about AKC obedience competition. Working in the heart of New York City gave me the opportunity to work on projects specific to the tri-state area, including organizing the first annual AKC National Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) Day. When I was asked to continue my intern duties at the Raleigh, NC office in the fall of 2003, I had the opportunity to serve as media liaison and spokeswoman for the RDO event in Raleigh, and establish a network of regional media contacts by giving tours of the NC facility and conducting interviews with local reporters.

When I returned to NYC in the summer of 2004 to serve as intern to President and CEO Dennis Sprung, I gained entirely new insights into the AKC. Interning for the president allowed me to interact with employees from all AKC departments, including marketing, finance, and publications, and provided me with a hands-on education about the corporate structure and the challenges of leading a not-for-profit company. As the president’s intern, I conducted research on AKC revenue over the past 10 years, created educational presentations to be delivered to the board, and worked closely with the marketing department to explore ways to generate revenue through sponsorship agreements and through selling products with the AKC logo.

Interning for the AKC was an absolute pleasure. Every employee, with whom I worked, from the mail department, to the events department, to the executive offices, was eager to help the other interns and me with projects and to ensure that our experience was a meaningful one. The camaraderie among the AKC staff, coupled with an energetic and talented group on interns made my experience invaluable. Working with the AKC through its intern program is a testament to the fact that it is simple to be passionate about your work when your work IS your passion. I strongly encourage all juniors to apply for the AKC intern program, because it will provide you with a unique education about the organization that you cannot find in any book.