Auslaut | noun | (aus-laut) | definition: final sound in a word or syllable (Merriam-Webster).
Haley Fite and Max Winter were there for the “final sound” of the 2017 and 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship – not to mention for every challenging syllable, every difficult word throughout the popular event. Sponsored by The E.W. Scripps Company and broadcast live on ESPN, the Bee was a remarkable experience for them both.
In 2017, Scripps partnered with Vehr Communications to create a novel internship, a position held by Haley Fite (University of Cincinnati, Class of 2018) in summer 2017 and currently held this summer by Max Winter (Xavier University, Class of 2019). The role gives an intern a varied experience in communications by working with two Cincinnati-based companies – Vehr, a global integrated marketing and communications agency, and Scripps, a media company that serves audiences and businesses through its portfolio of local and national media brands.
A unique component of the intern experience is one week spent in Washington, D.C., on the support team for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program. The interns tackled everything from connecting families and contestants with journalists to helping with social media.
On May 30, 13-year-old Rishik Gandhasri from San Jose, California, successfully spelled “auslaut” to join seven other finalists in a historic, eight-person group of co-champions for the 92nd Bee. Given the definition of that word, we thought Max and Haley could offer their “final sound” from their unique perspective.
A – Accountable: I was given lots of exciting opportunities to learn and a long leash to fulfill duties, including working the Media Desk to support credentialed media from around the world, conducting research, securing past and present spellers for on-stage interviews during the finals and even creating content for the Bee’s official Instagram account. (Max)
U – Untamable: Energy oozes from the packed ballroom even in the hidden moments not privy to television screens. In the days leading up to the final moments that determine who will receive the shower of confetti, spellers buzz about meeting their fellow wordsmiths, who pen their autographs in their souvenir Bee books — all while a nervous energy bubbles below the surface. (Haley)
S – Socializing: Whether it’s news teams, corporate communicators or social media managers, the Bee brings in Scripps professionals from varied departments and specialties. Each sit-down meal served as an opportunity to network with professionals and learn from the best. (Max)
L – Local: Spellers arrive in National Harbor, Maryland, with parents and siblings at their side and a following invested in not only their success but also their journey. Every word meticulously written and broadcast in local papers or on school Twitter feeds creates a groundswell of grassroots support documenting the road to victory. (Haley)
A – Awe-Inspiring: All the spellers had overcome tough odds to make the national stage, and Scripps made sure their efforts were rewarded regardless of where they placed. Each speller showed unwavering support for the others all the way through the finals, which made this year’s eight-way tie so heartwarming. Witnessing someone achieve a lifelong dream in front of their family and hundreds of friends is an honor; seeing it happen eight times in a row is nothing short of awe-inspiring. (Max)
U – Unwonted: Whether it’s the celebration of a tradition nine decades in the making or the first declaration of octo-champs in the event’s history, each Bee brings a unique, unwonted experience not easily replicated. This “rare, not customary or usual” experience creates a feeling of exclusivity that keeps audience members and media coming back year after year for that snapshot of history in the making. (Haley)
T – Transformative or Tightrope: For both of us, the Scripps National Spelling Bee was much more than just a spelling competition. A transformative experience, it proves that when dedicated individuals are put in a supportive environment, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. (Max) It walks a tightrope between scholarship and sport, friendship and competition, business and entertainment, constantly balancing these precarious ends of the spectrum to stay poised in the air along the tightrope and dazzle millions. (Haley)
A great internship provides important experiences, challenges and contacts for young professionals looking to make their mark. And, if they’re lucky, like Haley and Max, they can have an exceptional experience for a spell.