Students got the chance to talk to professionals from a variety of Chicago teams at Elmhurst University’s Meet the Teams event on Oct. 3.
Hosted by Russell G. Weigand Center for Professional Excellence (WCPE), the panel represented three major league teams: the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks, and the minor league team Windy City Bulls.
Last year, the WCPE started Meet the Teams for Elmhurst University’s athletes and sports management majors. This program was intended to give students interested in the sports industry a leg up in searching and achieving their goal careers, according to Christina Danno, assistant director of career experiences at WCPE.
The goal is to give students the chance to network with professionals in their interested field who can give them industry tips, share their career experiences, and talk about internship opportunities.
This year, four individuals came to the Buik Recital Hall for the Meet the Teams event.
Aaron Klein shared his experience in becoming the manager of ticket sales for the Chicago Cubs, starting with internships and managing his college football team, to working his way up through lots of networking and going after what he wanted.
Kristin Rogers works as the manager of employee experience for the Chicago Bears. She talked about bouncing around jobs, interning with the Bears, jumping to marketing with the Chicago Blackhawks, before coming back to the Bears and eventually landing her managerial job.
Michael Dorsch, senior director of finance for the Blackhawks, told the audience to just go for it because “you never know.” Despite not getting the accounting job he originally applied for, after getting his Master of Business Administration at EU, his good impression paid off and he worked his way up to senior director.
The last speaker was Josh Malone, the director of basketball operations for the Windy City Bulls. He has gone far in his career path, as far as traveling to Spain to work as an operations assistant. He has worked with the Washington Wizards and the Utah Jazz before his position with the Bulls.
They gave advice to students interested in getting into the sports industry, telling them to remember that it is a journey and it will take time. They all agreed that keeping connections and checking in with them is key in getting the job you want.
Klein included being passionate and involved with interests in those key elements as well. He said they would rather look at someone with a 3.0 GPA who is very involved with leadership roles, than someone with a 4.0 with no hobbies.
Passion was a big theme, but they reminded everyone that even if you get your dream job, you have to remember that it is still a job.
“It’s not just about who you know, it’s whether they would recommend you,” said Malone.
Dursch advised everyone to throw their hat into the ring, even if they are not confident they will get the job.
“You’re going to get told ‘no’ hundreds of times, but you only need one ‘yes’,” said Malone, backing Dursch’s comment.
The sports industry is a hard one to get into, but not as difficult as people think. While some internships are problematic because sports seasons usually conflict with a normal student schedule, there are still opportunities available.
The four panel members all expressed their want to help and their willingness to take a call to talk about opportunities and advice.
This event wrapped up with a networking opportunity to talk to Klein, Rogers, Dorsch, and Malone one-on-one, give them a resume, and get their personal advice.
Danno was delighted with the result of the event. There was a lot of interest, especially throughout the networking portion, with some lines to talk to the panel members stretching to the recital hall doors.
Students were happy with the event as well and found the advice from the panel helpful and encouraging.
“To accomplish your dreams you gotta take that first step,” said master of business administration student Alex Hall. Graduate student Jeremy Inniss jumped in with Hall, calling the event “informative.”
2021 graduate Shakirah Nilson was interested in the event because of her interest in sports, and was impressed with the inside look into the unseen side of the sports industry.
“Just to be here to learn the business side is very interesting, especially for me as a business major,” said Nilson.