My Shadow Experience: Kennedi Harris

This past weekend I got the opportunity to shadow Maria Taylor during the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio. I met Ms. Taylor at Bedlam weekend during the shooting for ESPN College Game Day and kept in contact with her which is how I was given this chance. I got to witness what she does behind the scenes along with the crucial role she plays in front of the camera. I learned how to watch games and get research while conducting the perfect monologue used in conversation amongst the different co-hosts. Being able to listen to direction given to her from producers is an admirable talent that she and every one on the cast take in account when filming the show. Maria also gave me an inside look on the flow of the show. She showed me how everything works time wise and I also got to see her in action. When we had one on one time it was a great way for me to ask her all of the questions I had. She gave me plenty of insight for when it comes to where I am in life and where I want to go.

Corinne Milien also played a big role in this trip as well. When it came down gaining perspective from another point of view she was a big help. She discussed more of the behind the scenes and how to be successful in sports business by sharing her personal experiences as well as explaining what she does now. Also, she first handedly exemplified the importance of really marketing yourself and how important it is to build relationships and getting to know people by creating genuine connections by really putting yourself out there.

Overall this experience has been a huge learning one and blessing. I am thankful that I was able to see what it takes to make it in this busines right in front of my eyes and not just on a TV screen.

Kennedi Harris
Oklahoma State, 2021

STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Dija Cobb with ESPN Events

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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.  

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STUDENT VIEW: Mesha’s NFL Combine Experience

Written by Mesha O'Neal

When faced with the decision to select an enrichment trip, I had no idea of where I wanted to go, learn, or experience. Two of my fellow peers from the Winning Edge informed me about the Sports Management Worldwide Football Career Conference during the NFL Combine and encouraged me to tag along. I ended up arriving in Indianapolis, Indiana without my pals as they found other conferences that were better tailored to their personal interest.

On the first day, I attended a mixer along with the many attendees in similar positions as I. Some had aspirations of becoming an agent or scout, but all of us had the common goal of wanting a career in the sports industry. Thankfully at the venue we were surrounded with those who had our dream careers. We were able to introduce ourselves to NFL personnel in hopes of becoming one step closer to our dreams.

The second day arrived and this was the moment that I began to learn things that no one from my past had ever mentioned before. The words spoken by NFL legend John Wooten, Miami Dolphins VP Mike Tannenbaum, and former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik, made a huge impact on my life. Within one day they answered every question that I couldn’t even think to ask. They helped me pave the road to my dream career and that it’s self is priceless.

I had the honor to talk with those mentioned above along with other NFL personnel that I bumped into at the combine, conference and even Starbucks. Those conversations reassured me that I was on the right track and whether I knew it or not, I was ahead of the game. They were happy to let me know that I was on the right track and had a bright future but they were kind enough to tell me things I needed to work on. Because they were kind enough to give me feedback that I wasn’t able to give myself, I now have a relationship with a handful of important people and now I know exactly what I need to do to take my career to the next level.

If you have the opportunity to attend I would highly recommend it!

Mesha O'Neal

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