My Orange County Choppers Experience

by · October 3, 2012

Angela Oliveri

I came into junior year a new person after my summer internship at the YWCA of the City of New York. It taught me a great deal regarding professionalism and what the work place was like. Realizing that I would be studying abroad in the coming summer, I knew my next/final internship had to be completed in the spring of 2012, and I had my heart set on one place, Orange County Choppers.

With YWCA-NYC being a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women, and Orange County Choppers being a custom motorcycle company that’s part of a hit television series, I got exactly what I wanted – the chance to test my strengths and see if I could handle doing PR work for two completely different companies.

I interviewed at OCC with the Vice President of Public Relations and Special Events. Upon discussing my prior internship and general writing experience, and exhibiting my well-rounded and out-going personality, I had a gut feeling that she was eager to take me on-board. Sure enough, I was accepted as an intern.

January 24, 2012, I began my new internship, and immediately hit it off with everyone. I knew I was going to have fun and learn a lot from OCC.

Sure enough, I was already diving into research and writing on my first day. My first task was to write biographies for every motorcycle that didn’t have one. From that point forward, I spent almost every day at OCC researching and writing.

I wrote and edited press releases for a number of events that OCC was planning. Not only had I never written a real press release before, but I had also never contacted the media. I spent a lot of time pitching our events through press releases, proposals, and event listing submissions to motorcycle magazines, motorcycle clubs, and local newspapers.

One event that I spent the majority of my time working on was the OCC 5K Run/Walk to benefit the wounded warriors at the Soldier Family Assistance Center at West Point. It was the first time OCC was doing an event of this nature, which meant that there would be a lot of mistakes made, or learning to be done, depending on the way one looked at it. The event would also be broadcast on television.

I knew from my experience at YWCA that there is always a two-week span of time right before a big event when everyone wants to quit, but has to remember how to maintain a sense of professionalism – learning to never take anything personally, to remember that everyone else is just as stressed out as you are, and that it’s not a bad thing to ask for help when the work becomes too overwhelming.

The crunch time before the 5K was undoubtedly one of the most stressful times I have ever gone through. Tension ran throughout the entire building. Every employee was contributing something toward this event, and lacking anyone’s part might have led to chaos.

This crunch time did, however, teach me some new things. I learned that not only am I well organized based on the way I work, but I can also figure out how to organize things based on other people’s needs. It also taught me how to divide my time to help other people. One of the many smaller things I learned was that I couldn’t function without coffee during crunch time.  I formed a new friendship with Dunkin Donuts and their iced lattes over those two weeks. It was a lovely friendship while it lasted – or while my money lasted.

OCC allowed me to be completely submerged in what PR is really all about. I wrote things that appeared on dozens of websites and in a number of local papers. I didn’t just research and write; I was pitching, reaching out, and communicating all on my own, and I played a big role in the planning and organizing of special events.

The most valuable lesson I walked away with is that in business, it’s all about teamwork. There is no way that one person can do it all on their own. Everyone constantly works on a different part of a giant project, and there are dozens of different factors that ultimately make up what the project is. Each part/factor is a giant project in itself, and if you can’t work with the people around you, if you can’t pull your own weight, and/or if you can’t do your own part, you’re going to fall flat on your face.

When I had my first visit with Kathleen O’Keefe in the Mount’s Career Center, about a year prior, she asked me where exactly I wanted to work in public relations. This is a question I am still not able to answer. My initial response remains the same, “I want to explore it all.” I told Mrs. O’Keefe that I was adamant about utilizing every possible internship opportunity in order to learn and experience as much as I could, and I wanted each one to be within a different type of public relations.

I want my resume to speak for itself. My work experience should exemplify my list of skills that are crucial to success in public relations. I can do PR in different fields, and I am more than open to that. I didn’t want to go into senior year and apply for a certain type of PR job. I want to apply everywhere and see where the wind takes me, because now I’m more confident that not only is PR the field I want to be in, but that I can do it wherever I want. I opened myself up to more than one type of experience and proved I can adapt to change, communicate efficiently, organize and plan to suit the needs of those around me, write, pitch, reach-out, choose my words carefully keeping my audience in mind, and most importantly, be part of a team.

Angela Oliveri, class of 2013, is a public relations major, business management and administration minor, from Jackson Heights, NY.