Steven Briefel ’11

Photo of Steven BriefelSteven Briefel ’11

Senior Account Executive, Premium Seating, Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins logoSteven Briefel ’11 is nearly five years removed from his time in Elon University classrooms, yet the lessons he learned in his sport and event management courses continue to stay with him.

“SEM/LSM provided the foundation for principles I still use on a daily basis,” says the senior account executive for premium seating with the Washington Redskins. “The courses and professors taught us how to think analytically, and it is still something I aim to use whenever I can.”

Briefel credits the department and his professors for pressing him to work on a variety of projects, charging students to think and evaluate possible complications and solutions. “That has been key to my success with the Redskins,” he says.

The Elon alumnus believes current students should consider learning about sales within the sports industry, explaining it’s often the easiest way to “break in” to the field. “I kind of got thrown into the fire when I first started,” Briefel says. “Having a basic idea of the role of sales in events/sports industry would have been very helpful for my first six months after graduating.”

Lauren Connolly ’09

Photo of Lauren ConnollyLauren Connolly ’09

Assistant Director, Compliance and Student-Athlete Welfare, Loyola University Maryland

Loyola University Maryland logoLauren Connolly ’09 credits Elon University’s Sport and Event Management Department – formerly Leisure and Sport Management – for building the foundation for her career in college athletics.

Long before her current role as assistant director of compliance and student-athlete welfare at Loyola University Maryland, Connolly was a student-athlete herself, participating in Elon’s track and field program.

As she competed on the track, the SEM Department’s curriculum was preparing her to “step right into an entry-level role in an athletic department,” she says. “The internship requirement forced me to make connections with individuals in the field and those connections are what lead me to my first internship and full-time employment.”

Connolly advises current students that networking is key to breaking into the competitive sport and event management industry. “The best advice I could give would be to make as many connections as you can while you are at Elon,” she says. “This could be by getting to know your professors, joining the Premier Sport and Event Society, or interning/volunteering with events on campus.”

And don’t just look for support on campus, Connolly notes. “Reach out to Elon alumni,” she says, “we are always here to help!”

Shelby McKay ’13

Photo of Shelby McKayShelby McKay ’13

Academic Support Assistant, Athletics Educational Support Services, The George Washington University

The George Washington University logoShelby McKay ’13 landed a series of sport management positions and internships during her time at Elon, opportunities that provided her invaluable tools she’s used throughout her professional career.

McKay believes there were numerous benefits of working and holding internships in different segments of the sport industry during her time on campus. “I was able to experience sport and event management and reflect on my experiences at the same time” McKay says. She feels that the experience of working in sport, as well as taking courses in the major at the same time, really enhance your ability to learn the material and apply it in a professional context; preparing you for your career after college.

“By the time I left Elon, I had experience in every facet of athletics which made my decision easier as to which part of athletics I wanted to work for,” says McKay. But those experiences did not just show up on McKay’s doorstep.

Shelby began her first job in college on move-in day of her first year at Elon. She then continued to find and pursue other jobs of interest to her. McKay encourages students in the program to use the connections they make with professors and students to find opportunities to work in the industry, and to help guide their career paths during college.

Jane Nicholson ’13

Photo of Jane NicholsonJane Nicholson ’13

Executive Assistant, Nashville Sounds

Nashville Sounds logoJane Nicholson ’13, an executive assistant for the Nashville Sounds, a Minor League Baseball team, says it is never too early to start securing internships in the industry, and to take full advantage of the resources Elon and its SEM program provide students.

Nicholson recommends that current students pursue internships as soon as possible, as each item on your resume helps you get to your next opportunity. “If I were to redo the entire process, I would have sought after an internship earlier in my college career,” says Nicholson. “I ended up interning for another collegiate summer baseball team after I graduated, and I think it truly benefited me to have another team on my resume moving forward.”

As someone who has made her way up the ranks in her industry, Nicholson advises students to seriously consider internship opportunities after college. “As a student looking into a career in the sports and entertainment industry, I wish someone told me not to discount post-graduate internships,” she says. “They often open the doors to incredible opportunities, and many organizations are more likely to hire you if you have previous experience and you’ve proven you’re indisposable as an intern.”

“The SEM Department at Elon fosters strong and meaningful relationships with students and alumni which I believe is extremely important – it certainly motivates myself as an alum to stay involved with the department,” Nicholson says.

Nicholson maintains contacts with the SEM faculty and staff today, noting how willing they are to help their students, even after graduation. Nicholson says she still gets emails from professors highlighting job postings they think she might be interested in.

Written by Sophie Kane ’17

Aly Yarwood ’15

Photo of Aly YarwoodAly Yarwood ’15

Marketing and Promotions Associate, University of Colorado Intercollegiate Athletics

University of Colorado Athletics logoAly Yarwood ’15 learned the importance of professional development and building relationships during her time as an Elon University sport and event management major.

Yarwood praises the program for preparing her in the classroom, and for its internship requirement. She says this combination prepared her for life after graduation.

“These experiences not only taught me what was expected of me on a professional level, but they also allowed me to gain experience first hand with the type of work that I would be doing after graduation,” says Yarwood. “The SEM faculty also were incredibly helpful in connecting me with the experiences and people that would help me find me secure jobs in the future. Their willingness to help whenever they could and connect students with members of the sport industry is unlike any other department and is one of the most valuable parts of being in Elon’s SEM community.”

Students should actively connect with professors and other professionals in the area throughout their college career, Yarwood explains, because you never know where one of those relationships might lead.

Written by Sophie Kane ’17