Sports business students

Super Bowl jobs, outreach trips, networking among opportunities available to sports business students

Sunday’s Super Bowl in Glendale is a boon for sports business students who have scored volunteer opportunities, internships, and jobs for the big game.

Ellen Grady

Johnny Torres, a senior sports business major and president of ASU's Sports Business Association (SBA), will be busy this week.

"In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, I'll be at the Phoenix Events Center, working as the area manager, managing 20 to 30 people," Torres explains. "And the day of the Super Bowl, I'll be working in guest services, an opportunity I got through my job at the Arizona Cardinals."

Michael Wilde, a senior sports business major whose internship with the Arizona Cardinals landed him a part-time job in guest services, will tend to club-level guests on Sunday. And sports business majors Isabella Ayer, a sophomore, and Grace Valandra, a senior, will participate in a Super Bowl project with Rise — a national nonprofit organization that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in sports — using sports as a tool to improve racial relations.

Sports business organizations

Opportunities like these abound through the sports business program, particularly for students who are members of the SBA, which is open to all ASU students, and the Sports Business Scholars (SBS), an exclusive program that helps members pursue sports industry careers.

"I worked for the Cardinals. I worked for the Coyotes. I'm working the Super Bowl," says Torres. "All of these opportunities have come through SBA and the networking skills that the association has helped me develop. I feel confident speaking with executives at the Cardinals or Suns, or wherever they may be, and SBA has been a big part of that."

While the SBA helps students get acquainted with the sports industry, providing experience in the form of internships, jobs, and networking opportunities, the SBS takes dedicated students to the next level. Sports business majors must apply and be accepted into one of 20 slots for the SBS, which offers an intensive mentorship program matched to each student's interests.

Outreach trips

The SBS offers regular outreach trips, which allow students to meet sports industry professionals working in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. In October 2022, SBS students traveled to New York City, meeting executives from the NFL, NHL, PGA, National Basketball Players Association, National Women's Soccer League, Madison Square Garden, ESPN, New York Knicks, Caesars Sportsbook, Barstool Sports, and more.

New York outreach trip

Students at an ASU alumni happy hour event during the Sports Business Scholars New York City outreach trip.

Jake Sher, president of the SBS and a senior sports business major who will work for the Baltimore Orioles this spring, says the outreach trip was a highlight of his senior year.

"We had a wide breadth of people and professionals we were able to meet with and get their insight into what it is like to work daily in those organizations," Sher says. "We also heard how they got there and what steps they took to improve their resume and body of work through their undergraduate, graduate, and work experience."

Elana Kutz, the director of student experience and external relations for the sports business undergraduate degree program, says outreach trips expose students to a wide range of career possibilities.

"I think students leave these trips feeling like they got the best crash course in sports business 101," Kutz says. "Like, what are all the career paths I could consider? What are the different kinds of companies I could work for?"

Wilde says Kutz's efforts to get to know each student's passions and career aspirations helps her effectively connect them to professionals working in those areas.

"On the New York trip, she really knew what every person in the group wanted to do," Wilde says. "She tailored our visits and whom we talked to in a way that met everyone's needs."

The power of networking

Kutz says she stays in touch with sports business alumni and encourages students to maintain connections with their classmates. "It's important that they have a close connection because five, 10 years from now, one of them might call another for a job or know someone who can connect them with a job. Networking is important."

The Sports Business Association's executive board at the Sports Business Symposium.

Through his involvement with the SBS, Sher has spoken with recent sports business graduates who are already working in the sports industry and says, "You can tell how much they want to help and be there for you when looking at next steps."

Because the first couple of undergraduate years are often spent taking general education courses, getting to know other sports business majors or graduates can help freshmen and sophomores feel more connected to their program. This was the case for Ayer, who joined the SBA as a freshman and the SBS as a sophomore. She says networking opportunities through these organizations have helped her plan a career path and obtain internships with the Arizona Cardinals and a sports marketing agency.

"There are just so many possibilities out there, so learning and hearing firsthand from the people that do it every day has really helped me figure out what I'm interested in," Ayer says.

In addition to offering career fairs and other networking events, the SBA hosts a Sports Business Symposium each year, which gives students the chance to hear from expert panelists on sports industry topics and meet like-minded peers. Last year's symposium, on Nov. 18, 2022, featured three speaker panels and keynote speaker Jeron Smith, who helped build Steph Curry's media empire, worked as a strategist for Barack Obama, and was a Nike executive.

Valandra helped plan and organize the event. She says, along with the opportunity to network with more than 150 attendees, she took inspiration from a panel devoted to DEI in sports.

"My biggest takeaway message was how their ambitions fueled them in their careers," she says. "While I felt connected to marketing and sales, it wasn't something I saw myself doing full-time. Seeing how I can use my passion for DEI and merge that with sports was great."

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