Their accommodations are spare and cramped. They have to go to class and work. It rains nearly every day.
But the 49 USC students spending their summer doing an internship at the London Olympics keep telling themselves: Im spending the summer in London with a bunch of college kids! Im getting paid for it! Im getting six hours college credit!
I cant even begin to describe how much fun Im having so far here in London, wrote USC junior Kyle Headley of Vienna, Va., on his blog a few days after arriving in early June. The people, the city, even the accents have made this experience extremely exciting so far, and I havent even begun to work yet.
Three weeks later, he and many of the USC students were seriously sleep deprived, had persistent sore throats and realized they were learning while having a great time.
Headley wrote about shadowing a manager of the O2 Arena, who took the time to scrape rust off the mens toilet trough.
What she was telling me is dont give your workers a mindless task that cant get done, he wrote. Always do it yourself first so you can explain to them how to do it.
And one of the guest speakers in their classroom settings stressed the fact that sports events are co-produced. If the fans werent there, what the players did on the field wouldnt matter.
Those lessons are the stated goal of the internship. The late nights in pubs watching soccer matches with crazed English fans, the weekend jaunts to Scotland or the European continent, the new friendships with their counterparts from Englands Leeds University those are just fringe benefits.
The students are benefiting from a relationship between USCs Department of Sport and Entertainment Management and Cleanevent, an Australian company that maintains venues at events such as the Olympics.
The relationship began with a study-abroad trip by USC students and instructors in 2003. A dozen USC students did internships with Cleanevent during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Cleanevent was impressed with their work and came back for more 50, to be precise for the larger operation at the London Olympics.
More than 100 students applied for the 50 spots, allowing USC to send over only the best and the brightest, said Andy Gillentine, chair of the Sport and Entertainment Management department. The group started with 37 women and 13 men, but one of the women dropped out a couple of weeks into the summer.
When they applied, the students werent expecting to be paid, just get room and board. But British law required they be paid. Cleanevent is paying them a couple hundred dollars a week and deducting small fees for room and board. The company also provides the housing five USC and five Leeds students in each of a series of trailers that look like storage units in what the students call Camp Cleanevent.
While Cleanevents employees perform chores such as cleaning toilets, the USC students are starting a little higher on the ladder. They arrived in early June so they could learn about the various venues hosting Olympic competition.
As the Games approach, they will work alongside the venue managers, performing chores such as scheduling practices and providing venue tours for the athletes and dignitaries, Gillentine said.
Its one of those life-changing experiences, Gillentine said. Its a busy summer for them that will provide stories for a lifetime.
The students have taken responsibility for planning and management of venues more quickly than expected, said Paul Barrett, a manager with Cleanevent. That has allowed them to develop a working trust with the venue managers. Barrett said the students are like sponges who obviously came to London to work hard and learn.
For the first seven weeks, before the Olympic rush begins, the students do have time between work, job shadowing and classes to explore.
I knew going into this experience that once I got to Europe, Id want to travel around and see more than just London, wrote Melissa Lynn Hirsch, a junior from Raleigh, in a blog. Two weekends ago I was drinking mineral water from the Roman baths, and last weekend I became a brew master at the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam and ate (a) Belgian chocolate and ice cream-topped Belgian waffle in Brugge, Belgium. Id say Im taking full advantage of my summer in Europe.
When the Olympic competition begins in late July, the students will help supervisors at the venues. But they also should have enough free time to get to events. Many already have used their new connections to attend (or work at) some of the pre-Olympic concerts at the various venues.
Attending the Olympics is merely just a dream for most people around the world, but being at an Olympics working for a company that gives you the privilege of seeing the inner workings and a behind-the-stage view of how the Olympics is run is unimaginable, said USC student Samantha Cain, a junior from Lexington, Ky. ...While I will admit we have suffered through a couple cold showers and some pretty awful meals, I would not change this experience for anything.
Most of the students are rising juniors, who will arrive back in the U.S. just a few days before the fall semester. But Logan Rhys Matthews, a senior from Lexington, Ky., is earning the final credits he needs to graduate in August.
This internship has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and no doubt an amazing finish to my college career, Matthews said. I have only completed about 30 percent of my time here in London, and the best is yet to come.