A group of CBU Sport Management students traveled to Columbia, SC, for a conference that took place November 14-16. The Sport Entertainment & Venues Tomorrow conference hosted by the University of South Carolina provided opportunities for our students to learn from some of the most successful professionals in the sport industry. Top executives from Global Spectrum, the Miami Marlins, MetLife Stadium (New York Giants/New York Jets), Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans Arena, Utah Jazz, and the Association of Luxury Suite Directors provided panel presentations. Also, there was a career/internship fair for students to attend. Two female and two male Sport Management students were selected to receive funding for their travel and conference registration expenses based upon high academic achievement. The students granted sponsorship from the School of Business were Emily Schmidt (Sport Management ’13), Kaitie Gaimari (Sport Management ’14), Kyle Johnson (Sport Management ’14) and Jacob Garbuzinski (Sport Management ’14). Trey Tedford (Sport Management ’14) also attended, and Dr. James Allen accompanied the students to this conference.
Emily Schmidt was asked to introduce the Women of Influence panel at the SEVT Conference. The Women of Influence for 2012 included Susette Hunter (director of sales and marketing for Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex), Vanessa Kromer (senior director of publicity for Nederlander Concerts), Linda Deckard (publisher and editor-in-chief of Venues Today), and Cyndee Pennington (general manager of the Pensacola Bay Center and Southeast regional director of live entertainment). Schmidt took to the podium and provided background information on these distinguished women who are directors/general managers of arenas. Afterwards, Schmidt reported, “A few minutes before the panel, I had the opportunity to personally speak with all of them, which was very humbling because of their success. Specifically, Ms. Hunter left the biggest impact with me because of her down-to-earth attitude, friendliness, and interest in non-profit work outside of her job. I remember thinking that I would like to see myself on her level of success and modesty in the future.”
The students also attended a job and internship fair at the SEVT Conference. It was a great learning and networking experience for the students. For example, Jacob Garbuzinksi had a chance to discuss career opportunities with the Greenville Road Warriors, a minor league hockey team for the New York Rangers. Emily Schmidt also noted, “The biggest reason that I was excited to attend this conference was to hear some ‘outside of the classroom’ advice on how to be successful in the field. Obviously, all of the speakers on each panel used different success techniques to get them to the top, and it was interesting to take notes. The most memorable part of the conference was the last panel we attended, ‘Venues Today Generation Next,’ which featured three of the youngest and most successful leaders in the events planning industry. They presented us with very helpful advice, and they hit home because they aren’t much older than we are. It made my future in the field seem very promising. I would recommend this conference to any sports management student. Not only was the conference itself very well put together/organized, but I also had the opportunity to introduce myself to several South Carolina area sports/events planning organizations at the job fair. Even if I decide to stay close to home in my career, I got to expand my contacts network thanks to the SEVT Conference.”
Tedford chimed in, “I attended the conference to better understand what Sport Management has to offer me. Being able to see top executives around the nation coming to talk to students about the future was amazing. I learned that in order to get to the top you need to have internships and jobs to get your foot in the door. You also need to have passion for what you do. The job fair was informational in that I learned about a sales conference in Atlanta that would help me get my foot in the door in sales; also there were many other businesses like Comcast that had some internships they were offering through the summer.” All of the students voiced what an honor it was to attend the conference and how valuable their experiences were in concrete, practical terms.
It wasn’t all hard work at the conference though, as Dr. Allen reported, “It’s cool. Jake, Trey, and Kyle went with me over to the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball stadium and viewed their trophy room with their recent back-to-back national championships.” The guys took turns taking pictures of everything they saw, and each other, with their cell phones. I am now the proud owner of numerous blurry pictures of them all grinning ear to ear and was sure to put it on our Facebook page for all to see. Garbuzinksi wrote, “The trophy case at the baseball stadium was unbelievable. The amount of success that that program has had in the past few years cannot be matched by any school in the country.” Tedford was also elated to take the tour and wrote back that, “The baseball stadium trip was by far one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip. I had a great time looking at what a prestigious program South Carolina has. The trophy room was breathtaking. Also, being able to see Cal Ripken’s son at the batting cages there just topped it all off.”
The students all expressed appreciation for the benefits of having met with top executives in the field, being immersed in the professional sport management environment, and the professional networking they enjoyed at the conference. As Kaitie Gaimari put it, “In my opinion, the best part of it was how much of an eye-opener it was. Being around all these put-together professionals in a field that I could possibly find a career in made me realize how important the things I’m doing now are to achieve a successful future. The most memorable part of it would be a panel in which we listened to a group of young professionals who just told us a little bit about what they did and how they got to where they are today. It made us all realize that we could be moguls some day or CEOs. I would definitely recommend this conference to another student.” For more information on this and other upcoming conferences contact James Allen in Sport Management at firstname.lastname@example.org.