Corporate Production Coordinator at Original Productions
Rachel Rudwall is an extraordinary 2008 Miami University graduate with more stamps on her passport than we can count. Rachel's professional journey started with an internship of a lifetime that sent her on an around the world whirlwind - 15 different countries in 12 weeks. And now that she's working a "real" job in television, Rachel still finds herself in places like Uganda and Kenya filming documentaries for non-profits.
Rachel currently lives in L.A. and works as a Production Coordinator at Original Productions, a company known for its adventurous, testosterone-driven TV shows. Some of their fans’ favorites are: Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, Monster Garage, Pitchmen, and Ax Men. As a Production Coordinator, she may be doing scheduling or casting one day, and playing camerawoman the next day. By the end of this year, she's hoping to be working on Deadliest Catch, withstanding the chill and isolation of Alaska in the name of storytelling!
We are very happy that Rachel agreed to sit down with GradtoGreat.com for an interview before leaving for Africa. In addition, we are thrilled to announce that Rachel Rudwall is our Great Grad of 2009! As such, we will be checking in with her from time to time throughout the year as well as sharing her incredible photography with our readers.
G2G: You scored an amazing internship with StaTravel.com in 2007, would you mind telling our readers about it?
RR: It would be my pleasure! STA Travel is the world’s largest youth and student travel provider, helping millions of youths explore annually, and my gig with them was one of the biggest adventures of my life thus far.
During the spring of 2007, I stumbled upon an ad for STA Travel’s first-ever World Traveler Internship. When I read the job description, my heart stopped momentarily; a company was actually seeking someone to travel the world with the goal of inspiring others to travel. All the intern had to do was live it up, then communicate his or her experiences to others via a blog, photography, and video podcasts! The position provided everything I adore (exploration, communication, storytelling), and I knew it would challenge me in ways I’d never been tested.
Somehow, I was the lucky one selected to be the World Traveler Intern, thereafter voyaging through 15 countries over the course of 12 weeks. On my journey, I did things like: white-water raft and go wine-tasting in Austria; visit cathedrals and clubs in Hungary; eat crepes on the Seine in Paris; work with Giant Pandas in China; trek and live with hill tribes in Thailand; and skydive, bungee jump, and ocean kayak in Australia. All the while, I was busy blogging and posting podcasts to STA Travel’s website.
The internship challenged and inspired me, left me empowered and humbled, and showed me just how interconnected our planet really is. I’m eternally grateful to the people of STA Travel for creating such an astounding opportunity, and then letting me run wild with it.
For my travel blogs, or to watch this year’s TWO World Traveler Interns explore Oceania, Asia, Africa, and Europe, visit: www.worldtravelerintern.com.
G2G: How did traveling around the world change your life?
RR: It would be difficult to say how travel hasn’t changed my life, to be honest. But, that’s not a very helpful response… so, I’d like to instead share a few things I’ve learned:
- Immersion is a better teacher than books could ever be.
- The U.S. is great.
- Other countries are great, too.
- As nations and communities, there is room for all of us to improve.
- Sometimes you find hair or other foreign objects in your food, and it’s simply not that big of a deal.
- The old adage is true: life’s in the journey, not the destination.
- Travel toilet paper and hand sanitizer are terrific.
- We are all in this together. It’s high time we act like it.
G2G: What was your first job and how did you get it?
RR: Other than babysitting, my first job was actually as a part of the custodial staff at my high school. That’s right… I was a janitor. At age 15, I spent my summer scraping gum from beneath desks and cleaning out the scum in the boys’ locker room.
G2G: Why do you think it is important for young people to travel?
RR: People need to get out of their comfort zones and challenge pre-conceived notions in order to have a full understanding of life.
Youths need to know they aren’t the center of the universe, but they are an essential part of it. They need to see what gifts they’ve been given, while acknowledging room for growth and greater understanding. They must see that young people everywhere dance, cry, feel excitement, know nervousness, and want to find their place in this world. Youths also must see first-hand that they need the whole world, and the whole world needs them.
G2G: What was your most memorable travel experience?
RR: The moment coming to me now is actually rather odd, but here goes…
Toward the end of my stay in China in 2007, I grew very ill. At the time, I was in such a remote location that I was unable to see a doctor. I spent nearly a week with a horrendous cough and throat pain that made it difficult to eat, making my last days in China less enjoyable than I planned.
At the end of the week, I flew to Thailand for the next leg of my internship, and the moment I landed I headed straight for the hospital. Magically enough, the only doctor there that spoke fluent English was a throat specialist! He diagnosed me with acute tonsillitis, prescribed some ibuprofen and antibiotics, and sent me on my way.
Just that little bit of care was all I needed, apparently, because within an hour or two I was sitting in a Thai café with a fresh banana smoothie, rain on the tin roof overhead, and an improbably serene expression on my face. That moment was the turning point between intense exhaustion and rejuvenation in a country where I would grow to feel deeply connected.
(It would have been a lot less pleasant if I were without travel insurance, by the way. Definitely get travel insurance before making a big trip! It’s relatively cheap, and it’ll save you from medical bills, canceled flights, baggage loss, and much more.)
G2G: What's the most exotic place you've ever been to?
RR: I have two answers here. First, I’ll go with the more obvious answer of Thailand, as it has everything an “exotic” locale would per our expectations. It’s a country of brilliant color, lush greenery, spicy food, fresh tropical fruit hanging from the trees, etc.
In addition to Thailand, I’d also say Dubai. It’s this weird city of in-between where East meets West, desert gives way to skyscrapers, riches and wealth live side by side, and the future stands malleable in the hands of the nation’s investors.
G2G: Do you have a favorite "home-away-from-home"?
RR: I tend to make a home wherever I lay my hat, really. I’m originally from Ohio, so that will always be my home base. I’ve also lived in Spain and Scotland, and I’d return to both of them in a heartbeat!
G2G: What advice would you give to recent graduates just starting out?
RR: Be open. Go with the flow. Welcome new experiences. Learn to accept constructive criticism. Listen to your gut as well as your brain. View coincidences as pointers in the right direction.
And, vocalize your career intentions to those around you. You’ll progress much more quickly – and in the direction you want to progress – if your coworkers and superiors know your goals.
G2G: Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew while you were in college?
RR: NEVER underestimate the power of the “informational meeting” (also known as an informational interview). For whatever reason, people never seem to talk about those!
During my senior year of college, I decided to work in TV production even though I’d studied nothing relevant. So, I avidly began researching companies with shows I enjoyed. I then used tools like LinkedIn to contact people with impressive resumes, essentially saying, “I am inspired by your work and would love to grab a coffee sometime to learn more about your experiences” (in slightly longer, personalized messages).
I expected most of my emails to go unanswered, but I quickly found that my expectations were too low. I actually heard back from tons of people! It’s incredible how many individuals are open and excited to share their stories. Simply speaking with them, you can learn the ins and outs of a career field in a matter of months rather than years.
The important thing about informational meetings is that you aren’t asking for a job. You’re just asking for someone to share his or her story. This takes the pressure off both of you, and you can chat in relative ease. And, when jobs do open up, the people you’ve met will think of you for the positions!
G2G: What are your goals for the future?
RR: I plan to spend my life learning from the world and then sharing with others what I’ve been taught. That may always be in television, or it could translate to magazines, documentary films… you name it. Regardless, I want to be telling the world’s stories.
G2G: Is there anything else we should know about you?
RR: I’m sure I’m not normally this wordy…
G2G: What new projects do you have coming up, or where can we see your work next?
RR: Aside from my work at Original Productions, I’m headed to Kenya and Uganda in June as the photographer and videographer for a non-profit called Sunflower Solutions. I’ll be documenting the living conditions in East Africa as well as helping install solar panels in rural schools. I can’t wait!
G2G: Thanks Rachel. We are honored to have you as our "Great Grad of 2009"!
Rachel graduated Magna cum laude from Miami University in Ohio in May 2008. She received a B.S. in International Studies and a B.S. in Spanish.