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Crafting an internship, one photo at a time

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April 14, 2016

By Megan Flynn '17

Photo by Tommy O'Laughlin '13Julia Eckart has developed a marketing plan, redesigned a website and captured a world record being broken on camera all before her senior year at the College of Saint Benedict. 

Eckart, a junior communication major from Minneapolis, found these opportunities through a sales and marketing internship at Cherrico Pottery, a pottery studio in St. Joseph started by Saint John's University alumnus Joel Cherrico '10. Through his internship program, Cherrico's goal is to give Bennies and Johnnies the freedom to explore their creativity and strengthen their skills. 

Eckart, whose specialty is photography, says she is grateful that Cherrico recognized her abilities and let her take control of her experience. Eckart has previous experience in photography and is the photo editor for The Record, the CSB and SJU student newspaper, and was excited to use her skills in a new context. 

"When I applied, the internship wasn't really photography focused," Eckart said. "But once I started, I think Joel saw that photography was my passion, so he helped me tailor the internship to be more focused on taking really nice photos of his artwork." 

Eckart started with simple, high quality photos of Cherrico's work. As her experience grew, so did her ideas. Soon, she constructed a mini photo studio in her dorm room complete with lighting, themed backdrops and strings of Christmas lights. Eckart's photos have now become part of an effort to rehaul Cherrico's online store, which launched April 8. 

"I'm really enjoying being able to use his creations as an artist in order to make a new creation with my photography," Eckart said. 

Cherrico says his continuing connection to CSB/SJU has been helpful not only to his interns, but has also helped grow his business and provide new ideas to gain exposure for his artwork. On March 7, Cherrico broke the world record for most pots thrown in one hour and Eckart was there with her camera to document the accomplishment. The video of his world record became popular and he gained hundreds of likes on his Facebook page. 

"I hire CSB/SJU students because the internship program balances work with learning," Cherrico said. "Tailoring the internship to each student helps us maximize their skills. Fortunately, the nature of an art-based pottery company means that customers often enjoy and expect fresh, new ideas." 

Cherrico's interns earn a modest stipend for their work, but they also have the opportunity to receive class credit for their internships. Cherrico believes this will make students more invested in both the internship and their education.

Photo by EckartEckart says Cherrico has furthered her photography skills by giving her different subjects and styles to work with, but has also encouraged her to read books that will help her both in academics and the real world. 

"Each of these books were intended to help me as a professional, but they also gave me valuable insight that's applicable to almost any activity, especially as a student," Eckart said. 

In addition to photography, Eckart has been writing blog posts, designing online marketing banners and managing Cherrico's social media pages. She is eager to see the impact of her hard work. 

"It's such a valuable experience to put together all this work and then actually see results," Eckart said. "When we do launch his store and people can see the beautiful photographs of his beautiful artwork, I think that should really help the business grow. I think there's a lot of excitement growing around Joel's work. He's definitely an emerging artist who is on the brink of something really great. I'm really happy to be a part of that."