Waldron Lands Dream Summer Internship
Keene State's Ray Waldron Lands Dream Summer Internship With New York Rangers
Sitting in his apartment in nearby Hinsdale, N.H., Keene State College’s Ray Waldron decided to take matters into his own hands. Frustrated at the response he was getting after sending out numerous internship inquiries, the soon-to-be senior threw caution to the wind.
A die-heart hockey fan of the New York Rangers, Waldron went on a one-man power play, going to the team’s website and applying for a highly coveted position in the public relations office.
Four weeks later, a surprised Waldron got an unexpected call. “I was floored when they got back to me,” he said. “I never expected to hear from them.”
Decked out in a spiffy new suit, Waldron headed to New York City for an interview. Following a subsequent phone interview that he took at the college’s Mason Library, Waldron headed home to Franklin, Mass., to await the Rangers’ decision.
Taking a shot in the dark, Waldron scored. He got the call that he’d been granted the internship while working at the local McDonald’s. “Considering the Rangers were my all-time favorite team, it was a dream job,” said Waldron.
After enduring a tough season that saw his beloved Rangers fall to the Bruins 4-1 in the NHL Stanley Cup semifinals, Waldron took pride in his unwavering allegiance to the Broadway Blueshirts – even if it led to the scorn of the partisan Boston Bruins fans on the Keene State campus. “All the Bruins fans gave it to me pretty good when the Rangers lost,” said Waldron.
Despite the predominance of Bruins backers, Keene State has proven a great place for Waldron to pursue his love of hockey. Following his first semester, he shot a message to KSC club hockey coach Bobby Rodrigue, asking about a PR job with the team.
Given the job of communications director, Waldron went to work. Energizing a growing fan base with his marketing and social media skills, Waldron, a journalism major, played a major role in the team’s increased attendance and awareness.
“Keene is really a hockey campus,” he said. “Everyone loves the Bruins and everyone loves the playoffs and I’ve been really able to capitalize on that.”
“Ray has been a huge help to the team in terms of increasing our social media presence and expanding our outreach,” said Rodrique. “His energy is boundless. This is a guy who can barely skate and the team absolutely loves him and appreciates all his efforts.”
Waldron, who is affectionately called “Rayzer” by the KSC team, is at his best when the game is on the line. He spearheaded the team’s annual fundraiser drive for prostate cancer awareness – for which the Owl players and coaches grow mustaches – resulting in the team finishing in the top 8 percent in contributions raised in the country. His hard work also helped the Owls secure a coveted invitation to travel to the Sunshine State last November to play Florida Gold Coast University, the defending Division
II champs in the American Club Hockey Association. KSC became the first team from the Northeast to sweep FGCU in a pair of games played in Fort Myers.
Waldron’s work at the college impressed the Rangers. “My experience with the Keene State hockey team grabbed them,” said Waldron. “They liked my creativity and my initiative.”
Working in the Madison Square Garden offices that are attached to the arena, Waldron has an early wake-up call. Arriving promptly at 6:30 a.m. every day, he and three other interns diligently peruse stacks of newspapers and web stories, assembling a packet of clips about the MSG teams (Rangers, Knicks and Liberty) that is promptly delivered to the PR staff and executives.
“It’s a case of “don’t’ kill the messenger,” said Waldron about the teams’ sometimes negative portrayal in the press. “But it’s a good way for our execs and department to find out what the media is saying.”
When that’s completed, Waldron spends the rest of his day writing press releases and monitoring the local radio stations, keeping tabs on the buzz around town concerning the teams.
Waldron picked a perfect time to suit up with the Rangers. A day after his arrival, the team fired fiery head coach John Tortorella. “Personally, I thought it was the best learning experience any kid in the PR department could get,” he said. “It was eye-opening to see how you go into crisis management. It was chaos – but I loved every minute of it.”
There are some dog days even for a team like the Rangers. When things died down after the hiring of new coach and Vancouver Canuck castoff Alain Vigneault, Waldron kept busy preparing for next season, updating media guides and programs. “I don’t let a moment go by where I’m just twittering my thumbs,” said Waldron. “I’m always asking everyone if I can do something – even if it’s getting a cup of coffee.”
Ironically, KSC, which doesn’t have a varsity hockey program, has now placed three people in the NHL. Cameron Gould, the club team’s senior goalie from Nashua, is working with the Bruins’ wives charitable foundation and recent grad Jocelyne Cummings from Preston, Conn., a one-time PR person with the Owls, is manager of amateur hockey development for the New York Islanders.
Getting ready to head back to school, Waldron knows he scored a goal with his summer internship. “I was fortunate enough to get this internship and realize that sports PR was what I want to do,” he said. “Just before I left I had my exit interview and they asked me where I want to be in a year and I said – right back here.”