Wilkes University junior Joshua Eckman’s summer internship has been a rollercoaster ride full of twists, turns and dragons.
You read that right. The business management major from Lehighton, Pa., scored a three-month internship with Busch Gardens Williamsburg. “I found out about my internship while searching for places to complete a unique summer internship which does not adhere strictly to the typical status quo,” Eckman explains. “Last summer I worked at Cedar Point (an amusement park) in Sandusky Ohio, and since I intend to enter the hospitality and tourism industry, particularly the theme park industry, I ended up at Busch Gardens.”
Eckman is a park operations intern as well as the lead supervisor for the Germany section of the park. With his team, he oversees and maintains the cleanliness of the park. Eckman also assists the guest relations team. With other interns, Eckman is working to improve directional signage to assist guests with navigating the 383-acre park.
The internship has proved both beneficial and educational for Eckman. It’s been fun, too. Eckman became certified to work in the parks “Land of the Dragons” section and is in the process of getting cross-trained at the park’s skyride and the world’s tallest suspended roller coaster, the Alpengeist.
The training led to a project that gave him a view seldom seen by visitors. “I was sent on a reconnaissance mission to analyze the wind anemometer atop tower eight of the skyride,” Eckman says, referring to the gizmo that measures wind speed. “My findings while on the skyride indicate that the surrounding trees hamper the anemometer’s ability to capture a 100% accurate representation of the top wind speeds affecting the park’s skyride.”
But that assignment was not the most interesting. “The most unique activity I have completed at Busch Gardens was a private nighttime tour and track walk of the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster,” he explains. “The roller coaster enters a cave, and this is where I completed my partial track walk. A full body harness was required to safely complete this track walk, and a small percentage of Busch Gardens employees are afforded the opportunity to complete this exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, making it a truly remarkable opportunity.”
Eckman has also been given the opportunity to enhance his leadership skills. “I became familiar with the importance of exercising various leadership positions and multiple leadership approaches opposed to attempting to utilize a standardized approach for (working with) all team members,” Eckman says. “I would identify this matter as my most important take-away, as there is no singular technique which provides ideal results with every individual.” It’s also something Eckman can bring back to his leadership roles on campus.
Eckman is currently a member of Wilkes Adventure Education, Wilkes Marching Colonels and Wilkes Pep Band. He also is a Student Ambassador in the Wilkes admissions office.
While being a leader is important, so is being a mentor– something Eckman knows first-hand with his own support system. Bryan Buffington was Eckman’s high school band director and life-time mentor. “He pledges his unwavering commitment and support to the betterment of his students. He also has assisted with instilling the concept that you will fail before you will achieve success; and it is only after you have tried, failed, and gotten back that your path towards life comes into focus,” Eckman says.
With only weeks left in his internship, Eckman is ready for a future in the hospitality and tourism industry no matter the twist and turns he may face.