Jan. 20, 2017
Student Volunteer/Intern Journal Report
Athletics Program Intern at Charlotte Country Day School
Hours Completed the week of 8/31/16 to Present (still interning)
Total Hours: 163 and counting
SECTION I – LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A) Academic Learning & Application: Being a sports management major, everything that I have learned during this internship relates to my field of study in some way. One of the classes I am currently taking is Facility and Event Management, which is essentially my main role for this Country Day internship. A lot of my time interning is spent setting up facilities for practices and games, and then breaking them down afterwards. I am also at most of the athletic events making sure everything runs smoothly and that there are no issues. Specific topics of discussion within that class that I have experienced during my internship include working with the audio/visual system during games, and participating in a changeover process. While on a much smaller scale than what was mentioned in class, the changeover process involves taking the gym from PE use to basketball/volleyball game use. The process for this is putting up all PE equipment, bringing down/raising the necessary goals, and bringing everything out that is needed for the event. Another class I am taking is Marketing, in which we have talked about the use of social media to market a team and connect to the public. This is an aspect of my internship that I have completed as I have run the Twitter accounts of several of the teams and live tweeted during the games.
B) Skill Development: At this point of the internship, I have learned and developed a wide array of skills. One of these skills is social media posting, and more specifically the skill of live tweeting. Before this internship I had never used Twitter, and so I have gotten the opportunity to gain that skill during my time with Country Day. Many would not consider the ability to tweet as a skill, but in the sports industry, Twitter is used all the time. If I want to look for positions with teams after I graduate that involve social media, I will need to know how to effectively use Twitter and this internship has done that. Using Twitter has also helped me develop my written communication skills because I have to be able to tell a story to the fans who aren’t at the event and be able to tell that story in a concise way. Therefore, by live tweeting games I have learned how to effectively but efficiently communicate with my audience. Other skills I have been able to develop have been problem-solving and time management. There have been a few instances where I will set up the audio system and then go to test it and it doesn’t work. At that point I have to go back through everything I hooked up and make sure I put it in the right spot, changing anything that is incorrectly connected. This process can be frustrating and time consuming, but I have learned to stay calm because getting stressed is what makes the situation worse. My time management skills have been developed because I am often given many assignments to finish and have to get them done in the short time I am at the office or before an event starts.
C) Personal Development: During the course of this internship, I have gotten the chance to do a fair amount of career exploration. When I came into this fall, I had completed one internship and still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. However, over the course of my time with Country Day and through the classes I am taking, I have realized that facility and event management is one of the careers I want to pursue. This internship has also allowed me to test out whether or not I would want to stay in high school sports or move to a higher level. At the start I thought maybe I would be fine having a career at the high school level, and while I still feel that way now, I also think I would enjoy the college or professional level even more. Lastly, this internship has helped me to realize that I do not like to be micromanaged and that I enjoy the social media of sports. During my time with Country Day, I have been micromanaged a fair amount and it is not something I prefer because it makes you feel inadequate. I now know I would prefer a situation where I am allowed to make my own choices and put my own style on projects, because that is how I can really learn and show off my abilities. In regards to the social media aspect, I have enjoyed live tweeting games and this is a role that I will look at with other organizations in regards to internships or jobs.
SECTION II – VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES AND PROBLEMS/CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED
As mentioned the majority of my internship revolves around facility and event management, but I also have tasks to complete on non-game days as well. When there aren’t games going on, I am typically in the office for only a few hours. During this time, I am usually building music playlists for the team in season or checking schedules online for errors in regards to time or location. I also have to go set-up for practices, which typically means putting out the audio system for football or field hockey. On game-days, my tasks focus on setting up the facility for the game. During football season that means putting out all of the field equipment and then setting up the equipment in the press box and making sure it runs correctly. During football games I am working the music and serving as a spotter for the PA. After the game is over, I have to break down the Booster Club tables and chairs and close up the press box. For volleyball and basketball games, I have to set up the chairs, score table, audio system for the gym, and pull out the bleachers. During these games I run music and also live tweet. Afterwards, I have to go through the break down pocess, which means taking down the table, putting up the chairs, and putting the bleachers back in. I have also spent time at the middle school where I help inventory and organize the uniforms for the upcoming seasons. Some other tasks I have helped with are serving as a coach during middle school basketball tryouts and helping out with basketball team pictures.
Throughout the course of the internship, we have had a few staff meetings that consist of myself, the two other interns, the Athletic Director, and his assistant. We had one meeting to start the internship off and then we have had one each month since. The first meeting served as an introduction into the program where the AD listed out his goals for us, and we each told him what we were looking for and expecting. The assistant also listed out what he was expecting as well. The other meetings have been progress meetings where we talk about how we are doing to that point and what we are learning. We also discuss any upcoming projects that we have, such as the renovation and reorganization of the trophy cases around the gym. When we talk about a project, we go through the steps that we need to complete and brainstorm how we can complete those steps.
To this point of my intersnship, I have noticed that on a day-to-day basis, my tasks will change, but each week I end up doing the same things. My schedule goes in a cycle where the beginning of the week is spent doing playlists and the later portion spent working games. For many this would create a sense of boredom, but I avoid that by challenging myself. Each week I try to see if I can find a way to finish the task quicker or if there is a way to make it easier on myself. For example, the first time I went to set up the audio for football it took me awhile but each week after that I tried to get it done faster and find tricks that could help speed it up. Doing this makes everything a personal game where I try to set a new high score each week and helps me to avoid getting bored.
Throughout my time with Country Day, we have come across a few problems but none that were insurmountable. The most typical problems have come with the sound equipment and it not wanting to work correctly, or not having the right equipment to begin with. When the sound equipment isn’t working, it simply requires a little extra time to check the connections and change any that are wrong. If we run into the problem of not having the right equipment, we utilize our radio system and ask someone who is in the office to grab the right pieces. Most of our game-day problems are avoided because we set up an hour or two before the game and check everything to make sure that it works correctly. We did have one scheduling issue however, and it came when the other two interns were off on a Friday that we had a home football game and middle school basketball tryouts. With both the AD and Assistant AD occupied with the tryouts, it was up to me to make sure that everything got set-up with football, and then go up and help out with try-outs. Clean-up after the game also took longer because I had to break down all of the tables and chairs myself. That day took a lot of multitasking and running around but we were able to get it done without any major problems. During my time we have been lucky and have not had any external problems, because these are typically harder to manage. As the internship wraps up in the next month, one area of concern I have is a feeling of being undervalued. When looking at my schedule for the next month I noticed that I am in the office very little compared to the other interns. I don’t know if this is because I am considered the worst intern or if it is just how the schedule worked out, but it is an issue that I would like to know the answer to. If it is because I am considered the worst intern, I want to know and make corrections so that I do better in future opportunities. To get this answer, all I would have to do is approach the AD and express my concern.
SECTION III: POSITIVE EVENTS
Even with the problems that we had, there were still opportunities where I could prove myself and generate positive feedback. One example of a positive event I experienced came after the first football game that I live tweeted. I had tweeted for field hockey prior to that game but there isn’t a lot of action in field hockey so you don’t have to post at a high frequency like you do in football. During the football game I personally thought I was doing a good job and was keeping up with the plays but I had no idea how my followers felt. After the game though, one of the other interns reached out to me and told me that I did a really good job, and even mentioned that he laughed at some of my humorous tweets. This positive feedback was good because it gave me more confidence as I moved forward with tweeting the games and reassured me that I was doing a good job. I can also take this positive feedback with me to my internship next semester as I will be doing much more tweeting and social media posting. Another positive event that I experienced came during our staff meetings. When we would go over future projects, the AD would ask that each of us suggest some ideas as to what we could do. In the past, I have typically shied away from saying my ideas due to a lack of confidence. However, in this setting, by being forced to contribute to the conversation, and then receiving the positive feedback of “Good Idea”, I was able to gain more confidence in the knowledge that I have. Now moving forward, I will feel more comfortable speaking out in a group setting because I will know that I am knowledgeable enough to suggest ideas.
SECTION IV: ACADEMIC PREPARATION: KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, COMPETENCIES
Seeing that I am so close to the end of my college career, I have taken a fair amount of sports management courses and have done several projects. Some of these projects have proved helpful during my time in the Country Day Athletics Program. One example was during my Intro to Digital Media Class where we did a photo project and spent several classes discussing the basics of a camera. This proved helpful in the internship when it came time to assist with basketball team pictures. I had had previous experience behind a camera and understood the aspects of taking a good picture, so we didn’t have to waste time teaching me and instead could jump right into taking the pictures. Another example of a helpful class project was any one of the speeches I had to do for Public Speaking. Before that class I hated talking in front of a group of people because I felt judged and would get uncomfortable, but after completing that class I improved very much in this area. This gained skill displayed itself during the middle school basketball tryouts where I would have to speak to a group of athletes about the drill we were about to do. Even though they are younger than me, in the past I would’ve still felt uncomfortable, but because I took Public Speaking I handled the situation very well.
Sports Management is the type of major that what you learn in the class is less important than what you learn through experience. Employers in sports will tell you multiple times that they care more about what you have done than what you have learned. After taking part in my second internship, I can see what they mean. While what I learn in the classroom helps me to understand parts of my job, there isn’t as much application as you would expect. In other majors, such as nursing or business, you are learning theories or medical terms that you will use on a daily basis. In sports, there aren’t really any theories but instead just explanations of what and why something is done. In the sports management college curriculum, one thing that I do wish was offered is a class on social media. As mentioned previously, social media now makes up a large portion of the sports industry. Every team and organization uses it and they are always looking for ways to be innovative and better than their competitors.
I believe this class could be a legitimate option because during the internship we had an hour long meeting in which we talked about posting to social media, and more specifically when, how often, and what we should post. In the class I am suggesting, all of that would be discussed, but the majority of the class would be spent working on projects. One project would be researching the social medias of various teams and comparing and contrasting them. The bigger project would be to create and run one form of each commonly used social media outlet (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook). This account would be separate from their personal one, and would give the students the opportunity to run a social media account for business purposes. Completing this project would allow sports management majors to be more comfortable with using the social media outlets, and would also better prepare them for future jobs or internships. These students could also take these accounts to future employers and display them in a portfolio.
I have enjoyed my time with Country Day and have gotten out of it exactly what I wanted to; experience. With more semesters left in my college career, I am not at the position to be hired, so the next best thing I can do is get experience. The more experience that I have, the easier it will be to get a job once I graduate. I saw an example of this when I went to interview for my internship next semester and, because of the amount of experience I already have, was able to land the position that day. This internship has also helped me clarify the direction I want to go moving forward, and so now I can narrow my internship and job searches to that direction. Lastly, I have developed great connections with the staff at Country Day and I hope that at some point if I am looking for a job, those connections can help me land one, because in sports it’s not what you know but who you know.