Tourism Rock Stars
Salma Ali’21 and Qudsia Khalid’21 spent their summer promoting the greater Beloit region through internships with Visit Beloit.
Salma Ali’21 and Qudsia Khalid’21 were two of Visit Beloit’s summer interns, known as “Visit Beloit Rockstars” for the office, which is the official marketing organization for the greater Beloit region. Visit Beloit reaches out to members of the community to promote local tourism and small businesses. The international students—Ali is from Bangladesh and Khalid from Pakistan—worked in Visit Beloit’s office three days a week and visited local events on Saturdays to distribute information about all that Beloit has to offer.
When did you start working with Visit Beloit, and what was your experience like?
Ali: I’m a returning intern at Visit Beloit. I worked there last summer, and I was happy to be back! It has been a very enjoyable experience—there was always something new to do or try, there’s a lot of team work involved (which I love), and I got to meet new people every day. The work environment was very collaborative. My supervisors gave me a lot of freedom in terms of how I chose to carry out my tasks. This gave me room to grow and challenge myself. I also worked closely with my fellow interns (there were four of us in total). We brainstormed ideas and completed projects together.
Khalid: I started working with Visit Beloit this summer. Each day was a new learning experience, whether I was inside the office or out and about spreading the word about the city I live in.
Where did you go to promote Beloit?
Khalid: We went to Chocolate Fest in Burlington, Wis., events in Milwaukee, Madison, and Rockton, Ill. In early June we attended Beloit’s Farmers Market and it was so much fun.
Ali: We traveled in and around Beloit, about a two-hour radius, to promote the city of Beloit. This included baseball games (who doesn’t love the Beloit Snappers!), farmers markets, music festivals, kids runs, and more. We carried promotional and informational material—travel guides, event calendars, and leaflets about Beloit’s businesses, attractions, and events. We offered free Weekend Getaway packages to the public through a raffle. This was a build-your-own package consisting of a hotel stay, gift cards to restaurants and shops, and an activity, such as skydiving—all in Beloit!
What were the best parts of the job?
Khalid: They definitely included a lot of traveling and learning about the places around the Beloit area, which I was missing out on. I educated myself and others that downtown offers an exceptional array of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and an award-winning open-air farmers market with more than 100 vendors. Woah Beloit, you got a lot!
Ali: One of the best parts of the job was the writing—I wrote blogs, website content, and magazine articles for Visit Beloit. Writing about Beloit’s businesses, attractions, food options, and events was very refreshing! I got to try new restaurants and write about the food.
What was the biggest learning curve?
Ali: Pushing myself to learn new things was a part of the job. I was working with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the Visit Beloit website, and it taught me a lot about improving website content and organization. I took an online course on SEO.
Khalid: Usually when I was in the office, I worked mostly on writing blogs and updating the Visit Beloit website. This definitely helped me improve my writing skills, and I learned more about website management.
How did you find this internship?
Ali: My friend Samantha Abrams’18 recommended this internship to me last year. The college’s Liberal Arts in Practice Center and the Career and Community Outreach Center also helped me complete my résumé and prepare for the interview.
Khalid: I saw postings about the internship on the Beloit College Student Group on Facebook and on the Liberal Arts in Practice Center’s Toolbox online. My very close friend, Salma, who worked there last summer as well, recommended me.
Why did you choose to work at Visit Beloit over other places?
Ali: I chose this internship because I love writing and traveling. The work environment was great and it paid well. I think the city of Beloit is undergoing very positive changes and I wanted to share that with our community members, tourists, and people who have not heard about Beloit previously.
Khalid: The people I worked with—my supervisors have been supportive since day one—made this a perfect place to work. This internship has definitely helped me to improve my intellectual and communication skills. I learned new things every day and educated other people about what Beloit has to offer. Hats off to the Visit Beloit team and my amazing supervisors who are working really hard for the city of Beloit, bringing in tourists, and showing an interest in giving opportunities to students like me.
How did studying the liberal arts at Beloit prepare you for this kind of work?
Khalid: It prepared me to do what I thought I would never do: come out of my comfort zone, communicate with diverse groups of people, and make connections with community members. Being a psychology major, it is really fascinating to analyze the different patterns of behavior—the way people react to new places and environments. I believe a liberal arts education has definitely shaped my abilities to perform these tasks efficiently.
Ali: I’ve become a better writer and a more productive team player. I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and communicate with diverse individuals. All of this has proven very useful in developing content, collaborating with my co-workers, and communicating with people. I have been wanting to work with urban development for a while now. Being behind the scenes of Beloit’s tourism, seeing booming businesses, economic engines, and facing challenges have certainly furthered this goal of mine.