Morgan Johnson and an invaluable internship
Morgan Johnson joined the Radford family as a transfer student. Originally from the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, moving away from home was both challenging, but also an exciting endeavor.
As Morgan considered higher education options, she was drawn to Radford University in part because of the enhanced facilities for communications and humanities majors. “I started looking around when I was thinking about transferring, and I saw Radford was getting ready to open up the new humanities building,” said Morgan. She transferred to Radford as a junior communications major and pursued a concentration in public relations.
Her Highlander experience was significantly enhanced by an invaluable internship experience. While some could argue it was “the right place at the right time,” it is clear that Morgan’s commitment to campus involvement led to career-enhancing experience that simultaneously demonstrates Morgan’s Highlander spirit.
Morgan became involved in the communications honor society. She also learned of the University’s annual Advocacy Day and chose to participate in this opportunity to travel to Richmond to support Radford University with elected officials from across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Morgan recalled, “I’d never put myself in any position to express any political position at all. To listen to the people of Virginia talking and to hear how passionate they are was a pretty cool experience, as well.”
It was during that experience that Morgan made a meaningful connection that led to an exceptional internship opportunity.
During Advocacy Day, Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. was talking with a Radford University Board of Visitors Member and President of Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) James Kibler Jr., J.D. and the students in attendance. President Hemphill turned to the group and asked for anyone from the Hampton Roads area to raise his or her hand. Those students were encouraged to connect with Mr. Kibler about internship and career opportunities.
Morgan took this advice and made the connection. Mr. Kibler then provided Morgan with a business card and indicated she should follow up if she had interest in becoming part of the Southern Company Gas’ inaugural summer internship program, which included opportunities with VNG.
“Morgan reaching out and being proactive in looking for opportunities really set her apart,” said Mr. Kibler. After a successful interview experience, she soon began work at VNG.
“I had never been in such a professional environment,” recalled Morgan. It was an opportunity for her to work 9:00-5:00 each day, alongside colleagues from a variety of backgrounds. It was also an opportunity to apply the education she had received at Radford.
George Faatz, Director of Growth and Strategic Planning at VNG, shared that Morgan “was a great addition to the VNG team and made meaningful contributions in a variety of departments.” He continued, “Morgan had projects across multiple departments – Corporate Communication, Business Development, Capital Projects and Financial Planning.”
One assignment required Morgan to work alongside her fellow interns to tackle the topic of millennial talent retention, requiring her to work collaboratively, think critically and communicate exceptionally well. The experience cumulated with a formal presentation to senior executive leadership.
“I definitely felt a little nervous, but my group members suggested I could get up there because I was in communications,” said Morgan. “I didn’t want to let them down. Seeing the feedback they were giving to me, nodding as if they agreed, kept me going.”
Afterward, Morgan received strong positive feedback, numerous handshakes and encouragement that the content of the team’s presentation and her delivery were both a job well done.
Morgan met the moment and delivered with confidence and in a manner that reflected the growth she had experienced over the course of her internship and over the duration of her education at Radford.
When reflecting on her Highlander experience, Morgan shared, “Radford University empowered me to be the best person I could be – I’m really thankful for that.”
Showing her “best self” did not go unnoticed. “Confident, but also passionate, about the need to learn,” is how Mr. Kibler recalls Morgan. “She took every assignment with a great deal of enthusiasm. She looked for opportunities to do even more than assigned.”
Since Morgan’s experience with VNG, she has graduated and is now working in a job she genuinely loves. Each and every day, she is applying her marketing and communications skills as a merchant assistant for a national retailer. “It is a really cool role, and I can grow within the company,” Morgan shared.
Mr. Kibler noted, “What Radford does to prepare students for leadership and activity around campus and in the community builds the whole person.”
Morgan is just one example of how Radford University is working diligently each and every day to prepare students to make a real and positive impact on the communities in which they live and work.
“Responsive. Resilient. Real.” is an online story series published by Radford University that began in spring 2019. The ongoing series celebrates the Highlander spirit of students, faculty, staff and alumni by sharing their unique stories and their strong sense of Highlander pride. Through being responsive, resilient and real, Highlanders are making a positive impact and leaving a lasting legacy on our campus and in communities around the world.