“After graduating from Illinois State University, I was definitely scared about the real world, getting into the work force and paving my own way,” said Annie Hughes ’06. “However, what I didn’t realize was how prepared I was thanks to the experience and the influence I had at ISU, especially the one-year internship I had with Assistant Athletics Director Todd Kober.”
Hughes was one of six or seven student assistants Todd Kober works with each year. Kober says he’s told that his internships are among the best at Illinois State, with as many as 25 students applying for six spots. Hughes would agree as she said the internship made her “stronger professionally and personally thanks to Todd Kober’s leadership.”
Kober, ’97, M.S. ’99, said he is always looking for assistants with a strong writing background, knowledge of sports and also passion, dedication and drive. He said the students experience a week-long training session and then are assigned to a staff member who continues with one-on-one daily training.
Hughes said her assignment was as primary media contact for the women’s tennis team. She created the women’s tennis media guide, publicized the matches, wrote post-meet stories for local and regional media and assisted with media relations work for football, basketball, baseball and volleyball games.
“The internship was stressful due to the long hours, keeping up with games, meets and school work,” Hughes said. “However, Todd’s motivation helped me and the other interns hang in there, succeed and become the professionals we are today. He is a very busy man himself, handling all media relations for football and basketball. Yet he still took the time to teach us and led by his example. Because of that, he was a large influence on my work ethic.”
Kober, who received his degrees in public relations and sports administration, said while he expects his student assistants to work hard, he “would never ask any member of my staff to do anything I wouldn’t do.” He explained that he is old-school in that he believes that hard work will take you places, and that he feels it is his job to “show each of our assistants how hard they can work and how much they can handle. When all is said and done, many are surprised at what and how much they can accomplish.”
Hughes said she knew that graduating with a major in public relations into a competitive field, she needed to have a resume with impressive and standout credentials in order to be noticed. “Thanks to Todd, shortly after graduating, I received a highly competitive sports marketing internship with Hill and Knowlton in Chicago,” Hughes said. “I later learned that one of the reasons I stood out was due to my media relations internship under Todd Kober on my resume. The Hill and Knowlton internship later led me to my current position, communications specialist at Loyola University Chicago, where I assist in handling all internal and external public relations for the University.”
Kober, who also held a student assistantship at Illinois State in 1995, said he helps his assistants with priorities and, from there, they develop a system that works for them. “I feel it is my responsibility as an employee at an institution of higher learning to offer a quality educational experience,” Kober said. “As a student assistant myself, I personally know how great the opportunity is. There are so many success stories of students working in Athletics and then making great achievements in their professional careers. It is really humbling. They come into the experience envying me and my job, but by the time they are in their careers, I’m envying them.”
“All I can say is thank you Todd Kober and Illinois State University,” Hughes said in summing up her education at Illinois State.