For the past five months, I have had the privilege to work with ESPN Events as an Event Assistant (Intern) for the 2017 fall season. Through this internship, I had to opportunity to work on a number of basketball and football events with my primary focus being the MEAC/ SWAC Challenge and the Celebration Bowl. The road to this internship wasn’t easy.  Prior to being offered an intern position with ESPN I worked as a Recreation Specialist with Charlotte Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation. While with Mecklenburg County I experienced success in event planning and programming, however knowing that I had no intention on working in recreation long-term, I weighed my options and took a chance by leaving my full-time job to pursue my passion. I received this internship with much help from my Winning Edge network after expressing a want for a change. Once the position came available, I was notified by one of our mentors (Corinne Milien) about the opportunity to which she encouraged me to apply. After sending in my résumé for review I was offered an interview which eventually led to me being offered the internship.

As an event assistant, my primary role was to assist with a number of events by providing operational support, creating on-site materials, budget management, assisting in the development of marketing plans, and travel coordination. My first event, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge approached quickly as it was a kickoff game for the college football season. Taking place on the Campus of Southern University (SUBR) located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Having never been to Louisiana prior to the event I was extremely excited to be a part of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge tradition. Coming into this event just a month before it took place, I was put in charge of coordinating the Commissioner’s Dinner which was held at a local restaurant. In addition to the Commissioner’s Dinner, there were a number of other ancillary events that I assisted with to include the welcome reception and high school seminar. Most importantly, however, I got to experience a live TV game and how television affects the game.

After I returned from the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, I began worked with other members of the ESPN Events team to close the event by tying up financial loose ends and gathering all shipped materials.  I also began working on other events. We also began coordinating with the Atlanta office to begin planning the Celebration Bowl. During the time leading up to the Celebration Bowl, I participated in all meetings and calls for the bowl, attended site visits and continued to assist with other ESPN Events including but not limited to the College Football Awards, Champions Classic, the Phil Knight Invitational (PK80) and the Jimmy V Classic.

From this experience, I truly learned more than I could ever put into words. Gaining new skills like Photoshop and WordPress knowledge and what it takes to bring together these big events from an operational, financial, logistical, and planning standpoint, have opened my eyes to what I would like to do in the sports business. Additionally, this internship has taught me a lot about myself, from how I react to pressure and habits I may need to work on growth.  This internship has reiterated the importance of building and maintaining my network. For me the first step to building these relationships was simply being open to the help. Often not wanting to be bothersome, I found it hard to reach out for help from my mentors and others, however, I now see this as a necessity. To maintain these relationships I use email as my primary source of communication. I have continued to connect with others using LinkedIn and connections made through my recent entry into graduate school.

The Winning Edge has had a significant impact on me professionally. The connections that I have made through the academy have allowed me to explore my options in sports management. The Winning Edge is truthfully what led me to this internship with ESPN. Additionally, my mentor has had a significant impact on me attending graduate school.  While I knew it was what needed to be done my mentor played a substantial role in my application process since the process differed from others.

Through the Winning Edge, I have grown and had experiences that I learn from both personally and professionally.