Wrestling with interns

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By Andrea Jezovit and Matthew Chung

Making it in the world of professional wrestling is tough, even if you’re battling it out for a business internship instead of a championship belt.

It’s no Royal Rumble, but the World Wrestling Entertainment internship selection process is grueling. “We have more interns than we know what to do with so we have to be very selective,” says WWE Canada President Carl DeMarco. “To make it here is a pretty big deal.”

Third-year Ryerson accounting student Indra Ansong has made it, and is now part of the company that put on 330 events around the world last year and grosses about $250 million annually. She’s working at WWE Canada’s head office on an internship obtained through the Ryerson Business Internship Office.

Although her job involves crunching numbers rather than opponents, Ansing likes her experience so far. “I’ve been taking what’s been spent and just adding it up. But aside from that, I’m really enjoying myself here.”

To get the unpaid internship, Ansong had to have at least a 3.0 GPA and participate in a mock interview at Ryerson conducted by staff from the internship office who gave feedback and advice. After sending a resume to the company, the WWE liked what they saw and brought her in for a real interview to put her skills to the test.

DeMarco says the company looks for qualities like a good work ethic and knowledge of what the WWE markets.

“We wouldn’t want them here if they didn’t know our product,” he says. “They have to watch the (shows) every week. It’s company policy.”

WWE Canada does marketing and puts on events, but only works directly with the company’s 140 wrestlers when they’re making personal appearances. Intern Lori Brown, a sport and event marketing student at George Brown College, hasn’t gone one-on-one with any great ones yet, but she’s responsible for booking their hotel rooms and rental cars and preparing biographies and media kits.

Brown doesn’t mind not being paid. “It’s all about the experience,” she says. “I wake up and I get really excited to come in to work in the morning. It’s not just about ‘wow, it’s the WWE.’ I’m just really passionate about the WWE brand and what we stand for. It’s exciting because it’s a bit of a controversial brand.”

Some critics have argued that the sport-entertainment company markets a culture of violence, perpetuates ethnic as well as sexual stereotypes, and objectifies women through its television broadcasts, pay-per-view events, live shows, and advertisements in magazines and on television.

For Brown and Ansong, gaining full-time WWE employment is tougher than winning the King of the Ring tournament, since the company has only 25 employees in Canada.

“There are very few positions available and a lot of competition when a position does become available,” DeMarco says.

Ansong doesn’t mind. She’s happy gaining experience, and is busy rekindling her childhood love of wrestling that began with Hulk Hogan. She says the year before she arrived, a few wrestlers even dropped by the office to see what was going on. But, Ansong says life inside and outside the ring usually stays separate.

“They’re the entertainers, we’re more of the backstage people.”

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