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Casey Choi, a 23-year-old Manhattan Beach native and graduate of Mira Costa High School, recently used her experience as a UMass alumni to earn a highly-competitive internship at Yamaha.

Casey Choi of Manhattan Beach says no two days are alike ever since she began her stint with Yamaha’s percussion internship program.

In January, the 23-year-old was selected from a national pool of applicants to participate in the six-month internship at the company’s headquarters in Buena Park.

“Every day is a little bit of something different,” the recent University of Massachusetts, Amherst, grad said of her first “desk job.” “Sometimes I’m walking around and doing things or sitting at my desk and answering emails, or sometimes I’m doing research on competition marketing analysis, stuff like that,” she added

In her day-to-day, Choi handles processing shipments to customers, maintaining relations with clients and market research for Yamaha products. She reports to the marketing manager, product specialist and product manager within Yamaha’s percussion department.

“I come in and I have a different set of tasks that I’ll do,” Choi said. “If a school that uses Yamaha products needs to have parts shipped to them, I’ll do the shipment… We also work a lot with creative team in terms of marketing, so we’ll have meetings and talk about where they want to go in terms of that.”

For Choi, there was nothing random about nabbing this plum assignment: The 2013 graduate of Mira Costa High School set her sights on the internship five years ago.

During her freshman year at UMass, Choi learned about the internship through a friend who had just graduated and been accepted into the program. Once learning about his experience with the internship, Choi said she “picked his brain” because she had made it a goal to apply and be accepted.

“I became more and more interested as he described [the internship] to me… He’s a district sales manager now, and it’s really cool seeing how much he’s grown in the past five years, from being an intern in my position to being a district manager.” Choi said.

After graduation, Choi moved back to California, where she participated in the Disney College Program until January.

Now, she works for Yamaha during the week, and Disney on the weekends. Despite the packed schedule, Choi loves what she does and “wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Choi attributed her personal and musical growth to her time playing in the drum corps during the summers of 2015 and 2016. The percussionist was also in the front ensemble for The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps traveling across the country, and participated with her snare drum in the UMass Wind Ensemble and the UMass Marching band.

She’s played at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and attended the Collegiate Marching Band Festival in Allentown, Pennsylvania, but she  attributes most of this success to the teachers and friends she’s had over the years who have strengthened her relationship with percussion.

“A lot of the people around me have inspired me to be a percussionist. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without my mentors and peers.” Choi said.

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