Q&A conducted by Reeves Wiedeman
Name: Valerie GrimesSchool: Wheeling Jesuit UniversityYear: SeniorAge: 21Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.Major: Business administrationInternship: U.S. Open Merchandise internPaid/Unpaid: PaidDuration: May 10 - June 27Hours: Pre-Open: 60 hours per week; During the Open: 110 hours per week
Valerie Grimes, the student government president at Wheeling Jesuit University and a member of the golf team since walking on as a freshman, is in her second year working at the U.S. Open golf tournament. Calling from her job at the satellite merchandise tent, Valerie talks about seeing Tiger Woods, stalking Justin Timberlake, and an encounter with a local news reporter.
How did you get the internship?I was a volunteer in the merchandise tent last year at Oakmont. You don't get paid, but you only work four shifts in exchange for free entrance into the Open. They introduced us to all the interns working there, and I was like "Oh, that would be a really cool internship." In the winter, I mentioned it to my [college golf] coach and she helped me find who I needed to contact.
What was your first day like?When I first arrived, we worked a lot in the warehouse in San Diego where vendors would ship merchandise and we would organize it and put it into trucks. The main merchandise tent is 39,000 square feet, and I want to say we have 600,000 items, so after that we did a lot of organizing, inventory, and a lot of counting.
Are things getting busier now that the Open is starting?Definitely, I have to work three shifts each day for about 110 hours this week. I didn't realize there were that many hours in a week. We start at 6 a.m., and for the first shift I'm my boss' assistant. I follow her around, and get to see what she is doing and talk to vendors. At 10:45, I'm in the satellite tent. The interns run a lot of the show here, and all the managers have been interns in the past and come back just to work for the week. At 3:45, I move over to customer service in the main pavilion where I deal with returns and exchanges. That's also where all the players will be. I won't get done until 8:45 each night.
So, no breaks?No, we get a lunch and a dinner break. And all our meals are free from USGA Hospitality.
Will you be able to watch the Open while you work?We have a lot of TVs in the merchandise tent, so I'll be able to watch the Open when we aren't really busy. I also have the advantage of working in two different pavilions, so I get to walk by the course when I move between them.
Have you seen any golfers this week?I actually just saw Tiger on the driving range and the putting green, and last week I got to see him teeing off for a practice round when no one else was around. That was pretty cool. And I saw Justin Timberlake every day last week at the celebrity tournament. I was kind of stalking him, but he came to me most of the time. To be honest, I haven't been paying attention, and then someone will say "Did you see who that was?" I'd like to see Phil Mickelson.
Did they let you play Torrey Pines?I've only had one day off since May 10, including weekends, and that day I went to Sea World. But we do get to play Torrey Pines after the Open next week. I'm pretty nervous about it, especially since I haven't been able to play at all since I got here, and everybody expects me to do well. It looks pretty hard, but the greens aren't as fast and the rough isn't as thick as I expected.
Do you get to keep any of the merchandise you're selling?We have different uniforms everyday, so I got a lot of clothes: 11 different outfits.
Where are you living?They provided housing for us. I'm living in a corporate apartment nearby, and we get a rental car, so we're able to get around.
What's been your favorite part of the job?Over Memorial Day weekend, all the vendors came out and we helped them set up their displays in the tent. I really liked working with the vendors, and working on the displays and product placement and marketing.
Are most of the interns also golfers?I was surprised, because there are 23 interns and only two play golf for their schools. We have one intern who is a professional golf management major, but most are just interested in merchandising and knew someone who had the internship in the past.
Is this something you want to do in the future?I really only declared my major this year, and I still don't really know what I want to do. I really like working with vendors and things like that, and if I don't go into golf marketing, that is definitely something I'd like to do.
What's your dream job?Event planning, so this is pretty similar.
Have you had any slip-ups or funny moments on the job?Well, this guy from a local news channel came in to interview my boss and asked if someone could pick out an outfit to model. We ended up spending an hour going through and having them film us picking the clothes out, saying stuff like "OK, let's start with this pair of flip flops." We decided to make the corniest outfit we could, and they made this skit about it. I was driving by security the next morning, and the security guy stopped me and said "You're the girl from the news!"
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