August 10, 2022

By Haley Dittbrenner ’25

This summer, finance major Hunter McDonald ’24 found himself getting a close-up look at how a casino operates through his internship with Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Being in the office at the casino was sort of like seeing how the engine of the operations runs,” McDonald said. “I wanted the internship at Hard Rock because of two exciting things: the professional experience in the finance field, and the energetic, positive atmosphere and culture that Hard Rock is known for.”

McDonald, of Galloway, New Jersey, was responsible for constructing the budget at Hard Rock, accounting for worker salaries, management fees and expected revenue for each month in 2022. Additionally, he received insight through daily operating reports, which describe how a business is doing daily compared to past years.

One of McDonald’s noteworthy solo projects was performing a labor analysis, during which he calculated the retail and services jobs at the casino, extracted union members, applied rates to the time in which they worked and gave value to the overall added costs. This report was presented to the general manager of the casino and gave McDonald experience using the casino’s database.

Access to executive meetings was a privilege granted to McDonald. “Being able to be in the room with the people who call the shots and make sure business is run accordingly gave me a new perspective. Different conversations arose, from how to utilize the event schedule to target specific markets to the general manager addressing issues that were taking place at the property.”

McDonald cited the spring semester of his sophomore year as critical in preparing him for his internship.

“It was monumental for building my confidence to take on the experience,” McDonald said. “I learned a lot from two of my professor mentors and two of my student mentors.”

He credited Sirapat Polwitoon, associate professor of finance and analytics, and Tim Murray ’93, adjunct faculty in management, with helping him improve his finance skills and fostering in him an analytical mindset. McDonald said his student mentors also helped grow his curiosity in the finance field.

While McDonald hopes to work in the Big Apple as a financial advisor or investment banker, his internship sparked interest in casino finance. He might accept an offer at his current workplace in Atlantic City, or look into other Hard Rock locations, such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, Spain and Germany.