When Chloe Dobson arrived at the University of Missouri in 2017, her declared major was political science. Dobson said she was hoping to eventually attend law school. A Thomas Rhett concert at Mizzou changed all of that.
Dobson signed up as event staff for the concert, which took place in late 2017. After working the entire event, Dobson switched her major to hospitality management in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR).
“I was really, really broke at the time, so when I saw an email about a paying job working the concert, I signed up,” Dobson said. “I worked for four days with Thomas Rhett’s stage crew, hospitality management students and individuals in the athletics department. I couldn’t believe this is what they did for a living. Someone on his stage crew, word-for-word, said, ‘It’s really sick.’ I thought it was amazing. Plus, I was about 10 feet away from Thomas Rhett and Old Dominion, so I was fangirling a little bit.
“About five days after the concert, I changed my focus and switched my major to hospitality management.”
Dobson has stayed busy during her time at MU, and as she heads toward graduation in May, she is participating in her most unique project yet – a virtual international internship with Camerata Salzburg, an internationally-renowned chamber orchestra based in Salzburg, Austria.
Dobson meets with a representative of the orchestra twice a week over Zoom. Because Austria is seven hours ahead of Columbia, Mo., most of the meetings take place around 7-9 a.m. for Dobson.
“This opportunity has blown my mind,” Dobson said. “I really didn’t know how I was going to fit, especially working with an orchestra, which is something I don’t have any previous experience with. It’s been a really interesting work, especially since it’s all virtual.”
Dobson heard about the internship through CAFNR’s Go Global! program. She worked with Shanon Dickerson, CAFNR’s director of study abroad, to make the opportunity a reality.
“I’m the president of Mizzou’s Special Events Society, and as I was putting together one of our meetings, I saw an email related to this opportunity,” Dobson said. “I thought I might as well apply after looking into it a little further.
“I definitely went into the internship not knowing what to expect. I appreciate the work Shanon did to match me with this opportunity, as well as answer any questions related to financial aid. I want to work in live entertainment and live event management, and it has been great to get more experience there before I graduate.”
Dobson has worn several hats during her internship, with the majority of her early work focusing on taking a deeper look into the orchestra’s social media presence. She has compared the Camerata Salzburg’s social media channels to competitors, which is an important role as the orchestra begins preparation for a 2022 United States tour.
“I’ve done numerous write-ups on how they compare with some of their peers,” Dobson said. “Social media carries massive importance for companies in the United States, so it was interesting to see how they handle it.”
Camerata Salzburg first toured the United States in the 1970s. Dobson has found herself mapping that previous tour to see if that trek is something the group would be interested in for their upcoming tour.
“Their original map took a while to go through,” Dobson said. “It definitely wasn’t to scale. I put all of the stops in an Excel sheet to showcase the changes in population over the years.”
Dobson has also been giving the orchestra several step-by-step processes for when they actually begin setting up the tour, such as how to apply for visas and permits for instruments. Applying has become a much more detailed process due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
“This internship has given me a completely new perspective on how many small steps it actually takes to plan something of this nature,” Dobson said. “One of my assignments is to help with eating arrangements after the shows. They told me that they want to be able to sit back, drink wine or beer, and enjoy a meal. Finding options that seat the entire group is a big responsibility, but it’s an important step in the process.”
Dobson, who is from New Franklin, Mo., will complete the internship in May when she will also graduate. She is currently searching the job market, primarily looking for opportunities in the entertainment industry.
“Both of my parents came to Mizzou, but neither had the opportunity to graduate,” Dobson said. “It’s been a huge goal of mine to graduate from MU. In a way, I’m finishing for them. It’s a very big deal for us all.”
Dobson’s internship showcases the “RISE” initiative, which includes Research, International, Service learning and Experiential learning. The competition falls under the Experiential learning section, which offers learning experiences outside the classroom, through industry engagement, internship programs and learning laboratories.