The Sport Management Department hosted its annual fall internship forum on Sept. 18, featuring Carol Pyszkowski ’16 as the event’s keynote speaker. The gathering also highlighted several SPT students and their professional experiences during the past summer.
At the conclusion of her keynote address during the annual Sport Management Internship Forum, Carol Pyszkowski ’16 provided what she called “10 pieces of advice.” For those paying close attention, the Elon alumna provided far more insights than that.
Before her Buzzfeed-style listicle, which included several important takeaways such as “stay humble” and find a work-life balance, Pyszkowski delivered a thoughtful reflection of her time as an undergraduate, her career path, and the challenges she and her family have overcome.
Today, she’s a senior account executive at Octagon, a top sponsorship consulting practice that represents clients such as Stephen Curry, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles. But five years earlier, she was a first-year Elon student looking to make an impression on professionals attending an internship session on campus.
Pyszkowski prepped beforehand and sought out an Octagon representative in attendance. She then persistently emailed them – at least five times, she said – to land an internship the following summer. She proudly notes she was the youngest intern in the 2013 Octagon Experience program.
During the next few years, she served as a ticket sales intern with the Carolina Hurricanes, an athletic communications and external affairs intern with the Atlantic Coast Conference, and an athletic communications assistant at Elon. She even squeezed in a semester at sea and led the department’s Premier Sport and Event Society.
“Be curious, and dive deep into who you are,” said Pyszkowski, noting her extensive list of extracurriculars and activities.
The experiences were all worth the sacrifices she had to make, Pyszkowski said. She also noted the ACC internship wasn’t a paid position. “But if I could be five feet away from the Tarheels’ starting five, that was OK,” she said.
Ultimately, her drive and persistence paid off with a full-time position at Octagon in the Triangle, where she facilitates the SAS Golf Championship. The Octagon representative she met years ago is now her colleague.
Following Pyszkowski’s address, the sport management students were divided into sections in the Moseley Center’s Lakeside rooms, and several upperclassmen shared takeaways from their respective internship experiences. An informal roundtable discussion followed the breakout panels.
This past summer, nearly 50 SPT majors completed their required for-credit internships, including several positions with prominent organizations such as the Philadelphia Sixers, New Jersey Devils and the Wyndham Golf Championship.
To see photos of the internship forum, visit the School of Communications’ Flickr page.
Among those who participated in the panel sessions were Kendall Ballotti ’18, Jenny Berman ’18, Robbie Nanna ’18, Madison Clarke ’18 and Josh Kruppa ’19.
The experiences of each sport management major varied widely. Ballotti and Berman exhibited their creative sides this summer, with Ballotti creating content to promote OutFound, a three-day adventure sports and outdoor innovation festival in Oregon. On the opposite coast, Berman interned in Washington, D.C., as a production assistant for Monumental Sports Network. She produced content for the online subscription network and in-game entertainment for MSE’s sports teams – Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics, Valor and Baltimore Brigade.
Nanna and Clarke both worked in sales, promoting the Philadelphia Sixers and North Carolina Football Club, respectively. Nanna noted the highlights of his internship included generating nearly $2,500 in full-season revenue, as well as weekly pick-up basketball games with the NBA franchise’s executive staff. The Sixers’ inclusive culture and commitment to its staff left a positive impression on the Elon senior.
Clarke conducted a deep dive survey for his Cary-based professional soccer club, investigating fan demographics and how fans hear about the organization. He researched the factors that influenced a fan’s decision to attend an NCHC or NC Courage game such as cost, opponent and promotions.
Josh Kruppa ’19 concluded an early breakout session explaining how his internship with the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest stood apart because of its international component as well as its large-scale size. The international swimming contest attracted 182 nations and nearly three million visitors.
As a competition management intern, Kruppa helped with logistics and facilities management and often manned the information center because he could communicate easily with English-speaking teams.
There were several perks during the 17-day competition as well. Kruppa briefly met actor Ashton Kutcher and escorted many of the event’s most prominent athletes, including five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky.