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SXU Student Completes Internship and Research Project Over Spring Semester


Saint Xavier University (SXU) communication student Natalie Davidson had a busy spring semester – she spent it completing a research project, serving as an intern for SXU's University Relations team and balancing full-time classes.

Davidson, who will graduate in 2022, began pursuing a digital marketing minor her sophomore year. She was excited to think creatively and learn about new digital trends. This spring, Davidson along with Graham School of Management (GSM) professor Vincent Cicchirillo, Ph.D., collaborated on student-faculty research to study the gamification of dating apps. In their project, they conducted focus groups, which Davidson led, to analyze the motivations behind why young adults use dating apps. To complete the project, Davidson earned online certification for social and behavioral research training.

Davidson and Cicchirillo developed 10 questions about dating app usage and motivations. The questions covered profile-building strategies, profile searches, fun aspects about the apps, barriers to using the apps, time-consuming and addictive features of the apps, and rewards from the apps. Those who participated in the study filled out a survey that allowed for more quantitative data for analysis. Davidson and Cicchirillo presented their research at SXU's annual Research Expo in April 2021.

Davidson greatly enjoyed her media relations internship with University Relations. Davidson assisted with creating a social media campaign to celebrate Saint Xavier's 175th anniversary. She dug through the archives to find pictures and information about Saint Xavier's history dating back to the 1800s to create a look through the decades to be used on Saint Xavier's official social media accounts. She also spent time researching social media trends, participating in brainstorming sessions, and researching and pitching student-centered stories, spotlighting student activities, projects and organizations.

Previously, Davidson served as a public relations and content intern for Easy Event Planning during her sophomore year. Though Davidson started her freshman year at Illinois State University, she fell in love with Saint Xavier when she transferred for her second semester. She was excited to be close to home, which also allowed for a quicker commute to school. and excited to play on the volleyball team. Her favorite things about Saint Xavier are the close relationships she's developed with peers and the beautiful campus.

"I love the smaller class sizes and the opportunity to get to know my professors personally. I really valued this in high school, and since that experience was different at Illinois State, it was great to have it again at Saint Xavier," said Davidson.

Davidson's courses in communication and marketing have sparked her excitement for future careers.

"Through these classes, I've taken part in working with real-world clients, completing certifications to improve my skill set, working with other classmates for numerous projects, and developing and writing research projects. My internships have increased my knowledge of marketing and public relations, improved my professional communication work ethic and pushed me out of my comfort zone. These internships have been crucial in preparing me for my future after I graduate from SXU, and I could not be more thankful to my mentors, supervisors and instructors," said Davidson.

Davidson serves as a learning assistant at SXU's Learning Center and is a member of the Honors Program. During the fall 2020 semester, she served as a sports reporter for The Xavierite and completed her volleyball career for SXU's women’s volleyball team.

This summer, Davidson will begin a new internship as a management trainee intern at Enterprise. She hopes to attend graduate school for marketing, advertising or public relations and looks forward to her future career. Davidson enjoys running and spending time with her dog and family – she comes from a family of six SXU graduates!