A group of nearly two dozen School of Communications students received a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of the NHL organization and its arena.
About an hour before the puck dropped at the Carolina Hurricanes’ Nov. 12 home game against the Chicago Blackhawks, a group of School of Communications students toured PNC Arena, meeting with organization and arena executives to discuss their job responsibilities, career paths and professional advice.
In total, nearly two dozen sport management majors and members of the Maroon Sports cohort got an inside look at what their future careers may look like.
Photos of the tour are available on the school’s Flicker account.
The visit kicked off with a group conversation with Mike Forman, vice president of marketing and brand strategy for Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes executive laid out his day-to-day responsibilities, then walked through his career path from Wake Forest undergraduate to his early marketing positions at Duke University and Stanford University. He also addressed the challenges he faces marketing a professional organization in a region that has a strong affinity for collegiate athletics.
Elon alumna Nicole Miller ’16 also contributed to the discussion, highlighting her own journey from an Elon student to a booking coordinator for PNC Arena, as well as the importance of building relationships along the way. In fact, she credited her Elon connections for leading her to her new position, which she started in September.
Miller explained that it was Associate Professor Hal Walker who recommended her for the arena position, and she acknowledged that working in the professional sport industry wasn’t on her radar at the time. She was then a fellow for the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, and she said she enjoyed the work.
But, ultimately, Miller decided she should stretch herself and leave the nonprofit sector.
“You have to realize how important your resources are,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t have gotten this position without Hal (Walker) and the other Elon faculty. It is important to build relationships, and stay in touch along the way.”
Christine Williams ’14, another Elon graduate, dropped in to talk about the value of internships and gaining hands-on experience before entering the professional field.
The producer of CanesVision, the organization’s in-arena entertainment service, explained to students that she completed four internships as an Elon undergraduate. That included a season-long position during her senior year with the Hurricanes, which required her to regularly commute back and forth between Elon and Raleigh.
“You really got to commit if this is something you want to do,” she said. Williams also echoed Miller’s previous comments about the benefits of building a strong professional network.
The student group then divided into two, with the Maroon Sports cohort following Williams to the CanesVision control room. With just over 40 minutes to game time, the students got a behind-the-scenes look at arena’s video equipment and upcoming promotions. The group also chatted with Chris Greenley, senior director of in-game marketing and CanesVision, who let several students make live changes to the arena video board.
At the same time, the sport management majors spoke with Davin Olsen, PNC Arena’s executive vice president and general manager. Olsen oversees the daily operations and functions held at the mulit-use venue, including contracts, schedules and logistical and technical aspects of events.
As part of his informal conversation with students, Olsen shared some of the personal highs and lows he’s experienced during his career, including the past 21 years spent with PNC Arena.
Accompanying the student group to Raleigh were Associate Professor Hal Walker, Assistant Professors Young Do Kim and Mark Cryan, Visiting Professor Bill Squadron, Maroon Sports Coordinating Producer Katie Halter, Director of Student Media Colin Donohue and Communications Manager Tommy Kopetskie.
The Elon contingent also stayed for the evening’s game, a 3-2 overtime win for the Hurricanes.