Cole Nelson’s Story – Ravinia Internship

Cole Nelson is a sophomore at Lake Forest College (Illinois) who interned at Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States, during Summer 2018. Ravinia employs over 600 people in the summer season. His responsibilities included greeting attendees and directing them to the proper parking areas and other sections of the venue.


Cole Nelson standing beside Ravinia signage

Cole writes:

“My experience working at Ravinia was a great one. My experience working with my coworkers was something I will treasure in my future endeavors. I got along with each person and was able to converse with and get tasks accomplished. I learned how to both be social with others and get work done. When the [parking] lot was not busy, we would play basketball. To get to work I would drive about 20-30 minutes. My disability is auditory processing which falls under the autism spectrum. I would have trouble hearing something and then trying to process it in my mind. With time, I learned to ask again if I did not understand what was said. Also, with time, I was able to learn what was expected and how to get it done.”

Cole worked alongside other interns from a variety of schools. During the breaks, they played basketball and hung out together. Cole was a basketball player in high school so this was his favorite thing to do during breaks. Currently, a communications major with a minor in Chinese, Cole hopes to contribute to Ravinia as a communications intern in the future. He has excellent interpersonal skills and is especially sensitive to others who may have invisible disabilities.

I was able to learn what was expected and how to get it done. Cole Nelson Summer Intern, Ravinia Festival

In addition to the staff at Ravinia Festival, Cole and his family are supported by Teachability, an organization that works to advance employment opportunities for young people with invisible disabilities like Autism and ADHD.

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