Southeast Senior Spends Summer as Natural Disaster Intern
Department of Communication Studies
Michael Wertz of St. Charles, Mo., who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in corporate communication from Southeast Missouri State University, is interning with Classic Contracting in St. Charles, Mo., and has been working with its disaster relief team.
Recently, Michael assisted the company he is interning with in restoring a community after a natural disaster struck the St. Charles area on May 31. Michael helped coordinate emergency repairs and communicated with insurance companies to help the companies streamline their clients’ insurance claims.
“I also had to get my hands dirty by helping to clear debris away at the epicenter of the tornados that touched down just a mile away from my home,” Michael said.
Michael said he has learned a lot in his time with Classic Contracting, such as how private industries work with the people affected by natural disasters. In the aftermath of natural disasters, Michael aids his company, which provides emergency services, including tarps to prevent water from further damaging buildings. The company restores buildings’ structure and appearance. In addition, Michael helps work with customers’ insurance companies at his internship.
“For major storms that hit the metro St. Louis area, I use social media to map out disaster areas so my company can send out natural catastrophe response teams to those areas,” Michael said.
To find his internship, Michael attended an internship fair sponsored through his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. He had served as the public relations officer for Southeast’s chapter since 2010.
“I just fell into [the internship] really,” Michael said.
Michael had a few offers, but he said he wanted to be near his hometown to help his parents care for his grandmother, he said, so he kept looking for internships that would allow him to be close to home. He continued finding organizations but none fit the needs he had. He then met a man in the elevator, and, though he did not know it at the time, he was the general manager of the St. Charles branch of Classic Contracting.
The two of them discussed Michael’s summer plans and desires, and the other mentioned he was looking for communication interns for the summer. Michael handed him his resume and the man said he would keep in touch. He did, and Michael became a disaster relief intern for Classic Contracting in the city he wanted to be in five months later. This is his first internship.
“I feel that any job – be it an unpaid internship or a part-time job – will contribute to a person’s future success because it demonstrates personal growth,” Michael said.
Michael said because his branch is doing so well, the owner is paying for the St. Charles office, including the interns, to go to Hawaii this winter.
Michael was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon at Southeast, one of the fraternities on campus, as an officer and on its intramural tennis team. He is now an alumnus of the fraternity.
“I have met my best friends and people that I will never forget in Sig Ep. I hope to be involved as an alumnus with the chapter for many years to come,” Michael said.
Some of Michael’s best memories came from hanging out with his friends, roommates and brothers from Sigma Phi Epilson. Together they would go to Capaha Park to play Frisbee golf or attend Redhawk baseball games. He and his fraternity also participated in Homecoming.
“My favorite moment at Southeast is winning Homecoming back in 2009 with my Sig Ep rush class brothers. We put a lot of hard work and sleepless nights into that float but it all paid off in the end,” Michael said.
He also enjoys playing tennis, which, he said, due to coursework and his job, he was not as able to play as much as he would like.
“My time at Southeast has been instrumental in shaping the person that I have become in these past four years. I honestly couldn’t think of a better time to be in college than right now,” Michael said. “Southeast has shaped my view of the world in areas such as business, civic leadership and how to be a better human being. The classroom gave me the tools to excel out of the classroom, but I have also used my knowledge gained from my work experience in the classroom.”
Michael’s future plans involve playing tennis more and attending law school. He will take the LSAT, the law school entrance exam, in October and has his eye on pursuing his law degree from the University of Missouri’s law school.
“The advice I would give to future Southeast students is to meet as many people as you can. Everybody comes from different backgrounds and having an open mind to new beliefs will better you as a person. I find that the hands you shake are just as valuable as the things you learn in college. Four years flies by quick, and you want to take advantage of every minute. Get out of your dorm room, and meet the folks around you.”