A Trinity internship with Hartford.com inspires hometown pride in a Hartford native.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon in downtown Hartford and Rachel Hunnicut is pondering cone heads and knickers. As an academic intern with Hartford.com
, the cheeky Web portal of the Hartford Business Improvement District, Hunnicut is in charge of planning this year’s Hooker Day Parade, celebrating the 375th anniversary of the capital city’s founding by the Reverend Thomas Hooker.
“The theme is ‘a living timeline of Hartford,’” says the sophomore, who is working with community groups and corporate sponsors to plan everyone’s costumes, from period dress to drag. The work is fun and demanding, and because it’s an academic internship with a faculty adviser and pre-approved plan—one of 200 such internships offered by Trinity every year—it counts for credit.
Hunnicutt grew up 12 miles from Hartford—Trinity’s home town—in the suburb of Avon, Connecticut. She says that when she was younger, she didn’t think much about Trinity because it was so close to home. “I really wanted to get out of Connecticut and be in a big city like Boston or New York.”
So that’s exactly what she did. But after a semester at New York University, she felt lost in the mega-tropolis without any real sense of community. Hunnicutt had already taken some classes at Trinity, so she knew about its strong academics and hands-on faculty, but she had some reservations about Hartford, which seemed small by comparison. Soon after she transferred to Trinity, she interviewed for the internship with Hartford.com, and that changed everything.
“I’ve gotten to learn so much more about Hartford,” says Hunnicutt. “I think it’s really helped me as a student here, because I know more about everything there is to do. It’s not just sitting in a dorm room every night. There’s this jazz show to go to or this event in the park to attend.”
Hunnicutt spends eight hours a week at the Hartford.com downtown offices, where she works closely with site editor Jordan Polon. From day one, Hunnicutt was given real responsibilities. She updates the events calendar, researches Hartford history, and now she’s taken on the huge responsibility of organizing the Hooker Day Parade, a decade-old tradition celebrating the light-hearted side of the city’s tight-knit neighborhoods.
“[Hartford.com] is such a small outfit. They need someone who is going to really contribute, and I’ve learned so much,” says Hunnicutt, who earns a half-course credit for the internship. “It’s really involved and the work is fun, demanding, and interesting.”
Hunnicutt is especially impressed with the solid arts and music community in Hartford. A prime example is the Wadsworth Atheneum
, the oldest public art museum in the country, but stuffy it’s not. A month ago, the museum hosted an Andrew W.K. concert sponsored by the Hartford Party Starter’s Union. Then there’s Real Artways
, a live music/cinema/gallery space that’s a catalyst for underground arts and music events.
“It’s really opened my eyes,” says Hunnicutt of her Hartford pride. “I had friends from my hometown come to Trinity on their spring break. We went to a concert that night, and the next morning my friend said, ‘I’ve really seen a different Hartford.’ It made me feel good that I’m going to a great school in a city that’s on the rise and that has so much going on.”