More Than I Imagined: Lessons from my Rhudy & Co. Internship

I have spent the last three months as the summer intern for Rhudy & Co. As I reflect on a summer well-spent with the Rhudy team, I am realizing the numerous ways I have become better prepared for my final year at James Madison University. Further, I am recognizing the importance of interning as a college student to gain skills for life, business, and this crazy thing we call “the real world.”


I would like to preface this blog post by saying that classes, professors, exams, and studying are wonderful tools. College teaches you the fundamentals while doing the best it can to prepare you for your chosen career. However, books and theory can only do so much. I’m here to share with you the unique lessons that internships teach college students. 

1.     Build relationships within your field

Make connections. Network. Form relationships.

These are all phrases that are reiterated to young professionals. What they don’t tell you, is that it can sometimes be hard to go out and connect on your own.

By interning for a company or firm, you make different connections weekly and sometimes even daily. The relationships you form can teach you countless skills, help you to collaborate, and increase your chances of finding a career after college.

You never know where a short conversation can lead you. 

My personal experience at Rhudy & Co. has encouraged me to talk to anyone I meet, both in and out of the office. You never know where a short conversation can lead you. 

2.     Learn how to accomplish tasks on a real world timeline

It isn’t uncommon for a project to be assigned and due the same day. Sometimes, you have to work as efficiently as possible to meet a client’s needs. By getting first-hand experience, you learn the importance of doing your best work at your best speed. This skill is beneficial to both schoolwork and a job post-graduation. 

3.     Figure out where you belong and what you like

It is almost impossible to figure out exactly what you want in a career until you experience, learn, and discover what you have a passion for and where you succeed. By interning, you can learn where in your field you fit in and what specific jobs are the best for you.

I quickly learned at Rhudy & Co. that the field of strategic communications is something that interests me. While just studying in school, I wasn’t always sure where I saw myself in the communications field. Now, I’ve learned what area I enjoy, which will give me a leg-up when I enter the real world.  

4.     Good people make for good business

If you trust and respect your colleagues, business will be better.

The people you work with make a difference. Working with good, honest, and kind-hearted individuals make it easier to connect and build relationships. If you trust and respect your colleagues, business will be better.

By far, this is the biggest lesson I learned while interning with Rhudy & Co. My team members were just as eager to teach as I was to learn. Without these outstanding people, I would never know what to look for in a future career. It’s not always just about the job, but those surrounding you in that job. 

Kristen Livingston is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., studying creative advertising. As a native Richmonder, she misses her daily walks to Stella’s for quinoa shakers in Rhudy & Co.’s work neighborhood of Scott’s Addition.

UZURV It! - Meet an RVA Innovator Inspiring Us

Innovation is all around us, especially in our hometown of Richmond, Va.

From startups creatively connecting with customers to Fortune 500s reinventing their core processes, our Rhudy & Co. team is inspired by the entrepreneurial approaches in #RVA. This year, we've launched a blog series, "RVA Innovators  Inspiring Rhudy & Co" to share more about these innovators. 

Do you know an RVA innovator we should highlight? Send us a Facebook message with the details.

Do you know an RVA innovator we should highlight? Send us a Facebook message with the details.

Making Uber and Lyft better
Taking Uber and Lyft to the next level, a local Richmond innovator – Matt  Donlon, founder and CEO of UZURV, developed a reservation services app that allows you to “UZURV” your ride in advance.

UZURV is headquartered in the historic Hofheimer Building in Scott's Addition. Originating in Richmond in 2015, the service has quickly grown and UZURV is now in 108 cities across the country. About 23,000 drivers are using it.

“It’s really gone viral,” Donlon said. “Part of that success is that we are investing in our drivers. They have a business card and a code they give to introduce people to UZURV. Customers get their first three rides free and the driver gets residual income – 7 percent of all future reservations just for introducing that customer to UZURV.”

Hatching an idea
And while Uber and Lyft and other ride-sharing disrupters have been challenged in court in several localities, the 2017 Virginia General Assembly passed the legal framework to allow UZURV to be recognized as the first Transportation Network Company broker in the nation, pre-arranging rides with specific Uber or Lyft drivers.

Donlon himself continues to serve as an Uber driver – where he and his partner, Harold Frans, hatched the idea for UZURV and where he can best keep his hand on the pulse of the business. He gave former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton her first UZURV ride to the train station.

We are most successful where Uber and Lyft don’t do well,” Donlon said. “Chesdin Landing is a perfect example locally. UZRUV does great business in those dead zones.

How UZURV works

  • UZURV only handles reservations and does not provide transportation directly. Think of it as the “Open Table” for ride reservations.
  • After downloading the app to your smartphone, you can request a pick up date and time well in advance of your trip.
  • Another cool thing about UZURV is that you can select your favorite driver as well as services and amenities you are seeking in a car service – infant car seat, military base access, etc. You select the service you want to use – Uber or Lyft and the service type (size and/or luxury vehicle) and add an incentive (it automatically starts at $3; you can make it more or less).
  • The only downside for our instant gratification-seeking selves is that you have to wait for a driver to accept the reservation and the only way you will know is by checking back on the app.

With a recent Richmond airport trip requiring a 6 a.m. departure, I wanted to ensure I didn’t have to wait 15 minutes, when I summoned my ride.

Three drivers accepted my reservation and I selected “Kristen,” had an online iPhone “chat” with her to confirm details and describe my house. The process was seamless; she was at my door before 6 a.m. and delivered me to the airport for less than $20.

The app is available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play store. To find out more, go to

Sande Snead frequently ubers to local restaurants especially downtown where parking and walking in heels can add to the value of paying for a ride. She UZURVs for early morning airport departures or destinations further afield.


How Do You Manage Your News Diet? Three Tips to Help You Cope

A new dad with his baby girl circa September 2001

A new dad with his baby girl circa September 2001

My news consumption changed dramatically in September 2001.

My wife, Michele, was pregnant with our first child on Sept. 11. As we were inundated with heartbreaking stories of unimaginable loss, we struggled to digest the information overload, raw videos and graphic photos. Just six days later, we welcomed our first daughter, Morgan.

By late September 2001, we began to limit our news consumption, which was hard for me as a trained journalist. I’ve always loved the news, especially stories behind the story and how different outlets cover breaking news. It’s why as a teenager I would read the entire front page of The Richmond News Leader before I delivered the afternoon paper. My parents didn’t have any news filters on me, but things were a lot different in the 1980s. 

As a new parent in 2001, I knew I needed to protect my children and my own sanity just a little more, so after Morgan’s birth, we needed to step back from the chaos of the cable news cycle and focus on our family.

Information overload = a fragmented brain
By mid-2004, we upgraded our coaxial connection to the world of the high-speed Internet modem. It was empowering because it led to the birth of Rhudy & Co., our strategic communications firm. Yet, the Internet’s constant flow of information started to mess with our brains.

Yet, the Internet’s constant flow of information started to mess with our brains.

This trend of fragmentation continued in late 2008, when I joined Facebook, and in early 2009, when I invited Twitter into my personal and work life. Since then, it has been a constant hum of posts, tweets, photos, videos and notifications.

The power of eyewitness media
In 2016, my information diet at times feels like an all-consuming fatty buffet. There’s more than you want to consume: the random violence, hate crimes, destructive rhetoric, political bullying, natural disasters and police brutality. It’s exhausting. It’s constant. For some, it’s truly debilitating, and infomania is all too real.

The challenge is similar to what we faced in late 2001 but it has intensified due to technology. How do we maintain our connection to the world without feeling beaten down by the negative news? 

Eyewitness user-generated content media also now floods my Facebook feed. 

Eyewitness user-generated content media also now floods my Facebook feed. The juxtaposition of seeing my fraternity brother’s cute twin toddlers alongside the Facebook Live video of mass causalities in Nice, France, is unsettling and hard to shake.

The eternal optimistic in me seeks the good stuff in my news buffet. Like fruits and vegetables, those content bites make me feel better and healthier while restoring my faith in humanity. That includes stories of neighbors helping neighbors, people overcoming adversity or helpful tips to make life a little easier.

Tips for coping and managing your news diet
On Tuesday, I heard an expert talking about just this challenge. In an NPR segment titled, “Managing Your News Intake In The Age Of Endless Phone Notifications.”  It made me think.

Take 5 minutes to listen to this NPR segment.

In the report, Claire Wardle, research director at the distinguished Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, shared tips to help balance our news diet. Wardle validated and described what I’ve been feeling in recent years.

Wardle is the co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub, which studies the legal, ethical and logistical aspects of user-generated or eyewitness media.

 Here are some of Wardle’s tips and few of my own for taking charge of your news:

  1. Cut the feed: Turn off autoplay in your social media feeds so you don't see a graphic video that you didn't expect to see.
  2. Take charge of your news consumption: Be prepared to watch or listen to the news. Limit your news consumption to a set period of time such as 30 minutes in the evening. Use your DVR to focus on the stories that matter to you.
  3. Control the uncontrollable: Unfollow news outlets in your social media feeds and unsubscribe from alerts from news outlets.

News is raw. It’s disturbing. We can’t turn a blind eye to the horrors in our world, but we can — as individuals, parents and grandparents — control how we access and consume news. 

Don’t be afraid to take charge of your news diet.

Jonathan Rhudy studied journalism at James Madison University. Most nights he watches highlights of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt with his three daughters. They spend about 15 minutes watching and talking about some of the day's good news events to help them better understand the big world around them.

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