An internship on the open road

  • Biking across AmericaFrom left, MBA students Rawles Wilcox, Mark Walkley and Adam Reel.

    Photo courtesy of Mason School of Business

    Biking across America

William & Mary MBA students Adam Reel, Mark Walkley and Rawles Wilcox are three ordinary guys undertaking one extraordinary summer internship.  

A native of Lexington, Va., Reel was smack in the middle of an internship interview when a thought crossed his mind.  “I asked myself, what do I really want to do this summer,” said Reel, “besides crunch numbers, sit in a cubicle and fetch coffee for my boss?”

Reel’s uneasiness when imagining the traditional 9-to-5 internship triggered the idea of the MBA Road Project – a 4,250-mile bike trip across the country to raise awareness and funds for ChildSavers.  The non-profit organization out of Richmond, Va., is committed to providing mental health and developmental services to children who have been exposed to a violent event.  So far, the project has raised just under $4,000 with a goal of $30,000.

The trio, known as the W&M Bikers, will cover 10 states and 112 counties in three months.  Their journey begins June 6 in Astoria, Ore.

Wilcox, an avid sports fan born in Suffolk, Va., said they expect to return on August 6 to Yorktown, Va.  That plan, however, is contingent on several variables such as the weather and enduring both mental and physical exhaustion.

Following the TransAmerica Bike Trail, the W&M Bikers will be stopping to talk with locals in each town about the economic issues facing the country. Sizable cities along the way include Missoula, Mont.; Pueblo, Colo.; and Carbondale, Ill.  They plan to video record their interviews and test Main St. vs. Wall Street theories.

Reels says approaching people in workout attire after physical activity will give the guys an advantage when it comes to hitting the streets for interviews. 

“We’re not rolling up in the typical suit and asking people what they think about the economy,” said Reel.  “We’re debunking the business persona and having real, face-to-face interviews with people.”

As part of the internship, the W&M Bikers also created their own website, wmbikers.com, to document the trip.  This fully functional website includes photos, an up-to-date blog and a feature to track the biker’s progress and location in real time using GPS technology. A Facebook and Twitter account have also been created for the project.

Walkley just completed his first year at William & Mary and says he’s ready to hit the road.

“There wasn’t a single internship opportunity that presented itself offering the same kind of mental (and physical) challenges this trip will provide,” he said.  “I love that I am able to use the tools I’ve acquired over the course of the past year to benefit such a wonderful organization.”

Andrea Sardone, Mason School of Business, contributed to this article.