The Andretti Autosport Internship Program
Andretti Autosport’s most significant undertaking as a team each year is, without a doubt, the month of May and the Indianapolis 500. Additional help is always appreciated and requested and while in previous years, Andretti Autosport relied on volunteers, this season an internship program was created for May.
The Andretti Internship Program recruits students and recent college graduates to partake as part of the commercial staff within the communication and partnership activation capacity. For 2022 five interns with varying backgrounds and interests were selected to take on the challenges of at-track execution.
Andretti Autosport’s Director of Partnerships, Katey Velgis, led the effort in creating the program and interviewing candidates. Velgis wanted to develop a program that allowed participants to take initiative and ownership of their role while also learning about the differing responsibilities of the commercial staff.
The first step was finding students and graduates Velgis and Andretti Autosport could trust.
“I wanted to find candidates that were passionate in an interest,” Velgis said. “It didn’t have to be motorsport. I felt like that was the sign they would take the initiative. I wanted to see that they had analytical skills and wanted them to provide a different perspective for the team to give us feedback on our program.
“I did want our program to be seen as an opportunity to give someone who had no connection to motorsport that connection they needed. They would have to take it upon themselves to make those relationships, but this would be the foot in the door they need. I think motorsports as a community is often very closed off to those without family or friends already in the sport.”
Velgis wanted to create a co-learning atmosphere where not only did Andretti Autosport act as a teacher for the interns, but the team learned from the interns.
“We built out a schedule of work at the track and built-in shadow days,” Velgis said. “I had them doing rotations to see how different roles operate. At the track, we used them in our suite management, hospitality, sponsor activation, and as tour guides. This gave them the ability to learn the reality of what each position did.
“In return, we did learn from them. I specifically gave the interns the assignment of presenting us feedback. However, I kept it open-ended because I wanted to see what direction they would take it. One intern gave us feedback on how he felt we were missing out on connecting to a younger demographic. Others gave us operational feedback. It was all constructive critiques that we will use going forward.”
The freedom of the review was in the spirit of the same opportunity the interns were presented throughout May. Velgis created structured guidelines but wanted to see her intern team use and grow their communication skills to work with each other and control the outcome of their guests’ experience.
“For any company, communication is a huge part of work,” Velgis said. “They had to organize and communicate expectations to one another and the people they looked after. We had some of the interns working alongside our top executives – that not only gave them the chance to be independent workers, but also the chance to network. Which to me, those are the signs of a successful internship.
“I did do weekly check-ins. I asked them for weekly recaps that would review specifics on what they learned that week and if they had any suggestions on what they could do better or what we as an organization could do better. I think the check-ins helped them develop and consider their work style.”
Thanks to the feedback and work of the 2022 intern class, Andretti Autosport will move forward with a more well-rounded program. In an extension based on intern feedback, the 2023 program aims to include the planning stages of activation and communication plans as well as an element of sales.
“Honestly, they helped so much,” Velgis said. “I think it was a step up from our volunteer program in the sense that in May, we focus on giving back to the Indianapolis community, and I think this was a situation that will propel them forward in work and life.”
Here’s what our interns were saying after their unique experience of Andretti Autosport.
Brad; Ball State: Entertainment Management
“Andretti Autosport was my dream organization to work for going into May, and it did not disappoint. I think they’re one of the most innovative teams in the INDYCAR paddock. The team is involved in so many racing series, and I am excited to watch its growth continue. I also thought the fieldwork played into what I learned in school but was more enjoyable.”
Emma; University of Northwestern Ohio: Motorsports Marketing
“It was great to see the behind-the-scenes of INDYCAR and Andretti Autosport. I really became a race fan during the COVID-19 lockdown. I enjoyed seeing this sports environment’s eco-system; it made me want to try working in the field and inspired me to declare my major as Motorsports Marketing.”
Alex; Indiana University Bloomington: Sports Marketing
“I wasn’t really a race fan, but I would say I am now from exposure. I thought this would be a great, hands-on experience. Due to COVID-19, there weren’t a lot of internship opportunities while I was in school to get this exposure. I felt part of the team and appreciated getting to build connections because it really is all about who you know.”
Isaac; Butler University: Finance
“Getting this internship was truly a dream for me. I always strive to push myself ahead and do the work when no one is thinking of their next step. I think that’s maybe what set me apart for this job. It gave great insight into the real-life application of what I’m learning. I saw how my major is just a label at school, no one cared in the real world. They care about your willingness and work ethic. I’m grateful to my professor Cathy Chamberlaine at Butler for teaching me real-world marketing strategies, which I have applied at Andretti.”
Dustin; IUPUI: Sports Management
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. But this far surpassed my experiences with other sports teams. I really learned how important it is to plan for the unexpected and to think on your feet. You really have to adapt quickly in racing. I also learned the importance of understanding communication styles between people. Overall, it was a great experience.”