Wednesday, July 9, 2014

TPG Sports Career Conference and So Much More:)

Hi everyone :) It's been a while since I posted. I thought I'd share my newest experiences since a lot has been going on!

First off, back in January, I was hired on as the first intern for the K1 Sportswear Girls All Star Hockey game, which was such a rewarding position for me. It was the first internship where I took a large load of the responsibility, and it was pretty intimidating at first. I was in charge of corresponding with players, trying to develop some sponsor relations, and overall, make sure things went as smooth as possible.

It got pretty crazy around game time, and was a little stressful, but it was a lot of fun. I learned so much about actually running and planning an event, and I also discovered it required a lot more time than I had available to me. I plan on doing it again next year, so anyone looking for an internship and wants to help me out, let me know. :)

Mark, Jerry and I
I also attended the TPG Sports Career Conference two weeks ago, which helped me in more ways than I ever thought it would. It was held in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 28th and 29th. The first day was listening to a lot of panels.
Some of the Charlotte skyline
The first panel we heard from was the Reporting and Production panel, which included Jackie MacMullan, who is a contributor for ESPN, and Chris Farrow, who is the executive producer for ESPNU.

Chris Farrow, Jackie MacMullen and Mike Grimaldi
My favorites from this panel were Jackie MacMullan and Chris Farrow. Jackie talked about how she was pushed in her life by family, coaches, and bosses, until she decided to push herself. It was interesting when she spoke about how she got started. Her local paper didn't publish game information for girls basketball, and she was complaining to her dad about it. He made her call the editor of the paper, who in turn had her start writing about girls basketball at her high school.

Chris Farrow was another favorite of mine. I spoke to him during the networking social, and he was so personable. He was hosting a girl named Alleca, who I met at the conference. Chris' wife is her mentor. So I got to meet them both, and talk with them in length about my future goals.

The second panel was Sales and Marketing, and me being a marketing and graphic design major, this was the panel I was most interested in. It was made up of Tera Black, COO for the Charlotte Checkers, Chrystal Rowe, Director of Ticketing, and Kami Taylor, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Events at Octagon.

Kami Taylor, Tera Black, and Chrystal Rowe
Tera really sparked my interest, because she was a lot like me; she was balancing an extremely busy schedule (with kids) and she was very driven. I went to the Checkers game that night, and watched all of their marketing activities. It was amazing to see what they do in a market that is much more basketball oriented. The game even sold out!

It really was a weekend to remember, and I had an absolute blast meeting other students, and meeting future potential employers.

I'm currently interning for Kernz and Kompany, which has been so much fun. I'm in charge of the St. Luke's 5 on 5 Soccer Challenge, and I've been helping a lot with the Duluth Airshow coming up in August. This internship has been more focused on event planning and has been so different from anything I've ever done before. Most of what I know is sports marketing related. This internship is rounding me out. It makes me love marketing so much more, and only strengthens my belief that this is what I'm meant to do with my life.

I also am interning again with the Duluth Huskies, doing more design stuff, creating programs and their 2015 marketing kit. I'm also doing some social media interning for Carmody's Irish Pub, and helping them have a bigger presence on Facebook, Twitter etc. On top of all that I'm a server still at the Kitchi Gammi Club! I'm a busy girl but as I'm nearing my senior year, I'm grateful for all of the opportunities I've had in my four years in Duluth. I know one day all my hard work will be worth it!

And of course, had to add a picture of my ever supporting, wonderful boyfriend, Justin. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

To Round Out the Year!

Bulldog Hockey!
It's finally the end of 2013, and I can't believe it. So much has happened this year, but I don't feel like it's ending. I thought I'd write a post summing up everything I've done this year, plus my plans for next year!

This year was the year I discovered who I was. That sounds so cliche. Shouldn't we all really have that sense of self? I thought I did, but I definitely am more aware of who I am now and who I am meant to be than I ever was before. My year was very hectic to say the least. I worked non-stop. I took more than 18 credits spring and fall semester. I was on the executive board of my sorority. I had 2 internships, one of which consumed my life for 3 months. This is the first time I have ever been able to say, "I lived every second, and made the most out of every single opportunity handed to me."

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics!
Starting off with spring semester, I got into my upper division course work at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I was preparing for my internship. I also was having kind of a "mid-college" crisis. I broke up with a boyfriend. I was second guessing myself. I had that moment of, "What the hell am I doing with my life?" It was absolutely terrifying. I had come so far, and it all had come to this big test of if this was who I was meant to be. I think we all hit that fork eventually of either continuing your plans or choosing a different path.

I decided to continue my plans. Granted, I was scared. I was getting into sports marketing, which is male dominated, and a lot of the time, I felt like I was speaking and everyone was thinking how dumb I sounded. I felt in over my head and I felt like I would fail. I didn't tell my family or even my friends though. I have never been one to show a weak face. I forged ahead into my summer internship with the Duluth Huskies.

All of the interns!
The Duluth Huskies is a Northwoods League baseball summer league team consisting of collegiate athletes that are of major league caliber ability.  They play at Wade Stadium in West Duluth and this is where I was for almost half of every day this summer. I interned about 80 hours a week, which is NO exaggeration. There was a period of time in which I was up until 4:30 AM editing bullpen and batting practice video and back at the stadium at 10 the next morning. I was working even if I wasn't at the stadium. I was always in game day mode. My job was more from the marketing and promotional standpoint. I was on the mic for all of our in-between inning contests (I wasn't the greatest at this. I'm so awkward it's painful.). I also made some signage for the stadium as well as helped with any other tasks that needed to get done (helping with ticket sales, preparing for groups, answering phones, getting concessions ready, etc).

Post game!
It sounds crazy and some people didn't like it, but I loved every second of my internship with the Huskies. I made amazing friends on the management end and player end. I was around the sport I love more than anything: baseball. We had water balloon fights, played catch and fielded grounders, had Brock Talk about the Top 5 (inside joke) and of course, had the pre-game talk shows with Harry Caray, Tim Kurkjian, and John Gruden. It was the best summer of my life, hands down. In August, I had to write a paper summing up how effective I thought my internship was and that was when I sat down and thought about if this was meant for me. After months early in the year of worrying about if I made the right choice, I had never felt more confident in my decision of a career. I had found what I was meant to do with my life.

By the time September rolled around, I decided I was going to do more and more to progress my career. I got a mentor through the Mentor Connex program, and soon after that, was hired at Twins Ports Connex, helping students find internships and jobs. It's something I really enjoy and I love being able to help people find what they love to do.

I also developed a very close relationship with my Sports Marketing professor, Dr. Stephen Castleberry. He's been so helpful and given me so many opportunities to meet with professionals in sports. In his class, we implemented a marketing plan for the UMD Women's Basketball team, in which we reached out to local middle school teams, and the UMD freshmen, to get them excited about the upcoming women's season. It went better than we expected, and a girl even made a shot from half-court to win a phone. We also had to write a sponsorship proposal. A student in our class was competing in Red Bull Crashed Ice. We had to choose a company, and write out what we would offer them to sponsor the student in our class. I don't know if our proposal was chosen, but it was a lot of fun trying to communicate with companies as to what they are looking for in a sponsorship.

Carly and I at the Vikings game!
I also got extremely disappointing news this year. I interviewed twice with the Minnesota Twins, once on the phone and the other at Target Field. I thought my second interview went amazingly. We talked about sports venues, my opinion on Joe Mauer moving to first, who won the World Series; in other words, my bread and butter. They had standard interview questions of course, and situational questions, which were a lot of what I dealt with in my other sports internships. I walked out of Target Field like that's where I was working next year. I felt so confident that I locked it up.

I waited about 3 weeks for a phone call. On Friday, December 13th, I got the call I was waiting for. I was sitting in Business Communications, and I accidentally ignored the call. I walked out of the room calling the number back and got sent to Holly Corbin's (in human resources for the Twins) voicemail. I panicked that I wouldn't get a voicemail or anything. Finally my phone buzzed that I had a message. I said a quick prayer and listened to it. She said, "We found a candidate that better fits our qualifications. We thank you for your time and wish you nothing but the best."

Immediately I was in tears. This was my dream job. This was what I have worked on for 7 years. It was everything I wanted. My dream told me, "No." Even thinking about it now it breaks my heart. That may sound dramatic, but when you work on something your whole life and you don't get it, it's hard. I called my parents crying. I went back to class crying. I think I cried for the next 4 days. I am not the girl that usually does that, but I was hurt. I had no chance of finding a different baseball internship because I thought I was going to be with the Twins. I thought my world was preetttyyyy much ending.

A couple hours after getting that phone call, I was emailing, calling and messaging people asking, "What next?" To be honest, I needed someone to tell me that everything would be okay. I knew it would, but I basically needed someone to say it to my face. Everyone just said, "Maybe something better is around the corner for you." Here's a piece of advice: Don't say that, no matter how true it is. I know I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to be upset for a day.

I was connecting with marketing people on LinkedIn. I emailed my advisors and mentors. I contacted just about anyone I knew in sports, trying to find something for me to do. This was all the day of me finding out I didn't get the internship. I panicked.

After the weekend, I started to calm down a little bit and emailed Devin Graff, who I had interviewed with at Kernz and Kompany, a marketing and special events firm. It was something I was genuinely interested in, and wanted to do, but at the time of my interview, I was waiting on the Minnesota Twins. I emailed her, asking if there was still something available for me. She emailed me back later that day and offered me a position for next summer. Finally I felt a little more stable (This all sounds like it happened quickly, but if you know me, everything for me happens quickly and I have no patience).

Kallie and I at Phi Sig Winter Dinner!
To interject a little piece of advice for anyone who is like me, it's okay if you don't get the job you want. You have to think of some of the most successful people in the world. Most of them failed on their first try. Michael Jordan didn't make his high school varsity basketball team the first time he tried out. Bill Gates dropped out of college and so did Steve Jobs. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books were rejected 12 times before being accepted by a publisher. Sometimes your greatest successes come out of your greatest failures.

So now as I sit at home on my break from school, I look forward to 2014. One of my bosses at the Kitchi Gammi Club (a restaurant) told me that she wouldn't be surprised if I took over the world one day, and maybe that's what will happen in the future. ;) In all honesty though, a lot of what I will be doing is continuing my internship with UMD Athletics, one of my favorite things to do, and begin an internship with Kernz and Kompany. I also plan on attending a sports conference in March in North Carolina, to meet with some people from the NBA, ESPN, and many other sports companies. I'm really excited to meet and network with more people.

What I'm also going to be doing more of is blogging, and working on getting women more involved in sports business jobs. I posted a video on my Facebook a while back of a radio talk show host saying that women have no place in sports. I could go on for hours about how big of a moron this guy is, but I would be wasting my breath. I want women to feel comfortable working in sports businesses, and I want to inspire women to go after what they want to do. I joined a group called Women in Business, and hopefully, I'll meet other women there that want to do the same things.

2013 was a great year for me. I interned, Polar Plunged, was on executive board of Phi Sigma Sigma, went to 2 Twins games, 2 Wild games and a Vikings game. I failed a lot though too. I only have 3 semesters left of school but I'm happy that I'm making these mistakes now. Thanks to everyone who reads this and who has reached out to me asking for advice or who has given me advice. I'm happy that I can help some people. Enjoy the holidays with your family, and have a happy new year :)

My sister and I!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Minnesota Wild Networking Event, College Connection, and TWINS :)

             Hey everyone! I can't even believe how fast this semester has flown by. I feel like it's still  September! I have some updates as to what I've been doing and different events I've gone to! :)

             I went to a networking event with the Minnesota Wild on November 5th, which was my first real  experience meeting with people that are Vice Presidents and COOs. There were many people there that  were much older than me, so I was really intimidated standing there. I even designed my own business cards  with a QR code to my LinkedIn. They seemed very average compared to everyone else. Because there  were so many people, I didn't have an opportunity to talk to everyone. There were about 10 or so  professionals in the Wild, Timberwolves, Vikings and various other teams that attended the event. There  were groups of people surrounding each professional trying to listen to them speak as well as trying to ask  their own questions. It was one of the few times in my life that I felt really out of place, but I still managed to  ask questions and make sure people knew that I was there.

            The person that had the largest impact on me was Mitch Helgerson, who is the Vice President of  Marketing Intelligence for the Minnesota Wild. I usually just think of the creative side of marketing, but I  never stop and think about all of the research that goes into making creative marketing campaigns  successful. Mitch went into depth about what he does and then explained how his part of marketing  integrates with the creative area of marketing. It was great to hear about how he uses social media analytics  to make successful advertisements.

            One of the other people I met was Carin Anderson. She is the Vice President of Corporate  Sponsorships and Retail Management. She went into depth about how they manage their store at the Xcel  Energy Center and how they plan on expanding. She talked about the idea of expanding the Hockey  Lodges up to Duluth, but the concern is dealing with a store that is 2+ hours away. Personally, I think a  store here would do very well regardless of season.


            Of course, after the event was over, I stayed for the game. We originally had bleeder seats, but  managed to sneak down to the 6th row, and got to see 3 goals. It was a great game, and the energy in that  building is unreal. People that deal with fan relations, scoreboard, and everything for the Wild do such a  great job. I always know at a Wild game that I will be entertained, besides just the game.

            The next big event that I got to participate in was the College Connection Speed Networking Event. I work for Twin Ports Connex, who put this event on, and it was a great success. Not only did the event help me meet a lot of new people, but I also got to connect with people that connected me with other people. A perfect example of this was when I met a woman at this event who knows a woman who works for the Detroit Red Wings. She handed my information off to Danielle (Marketing Manager and Corporate Sponsorships for the Detroit Red Wings). Danielle and I talked for about an hour on the phone, and I learned quickly that we were extremely similar. We both are very driven women that are never moving fast enough. I loved talking to her, and I hope that she will be somewhat of a mentor to me.

SO, moral of this post:
  • Even if you're feeling uncomfortable, throw yourself out there anyway. People are going to be impressed.
  • Networking is EXTREMELY valuable. You never know who you will meet, and who will introduce you to other people. It's a very important skill.
  • Always show passion for what you do. Not only will your job performance improve, but potential employers love to see someone who genuinely cares.
            My best news out of all of this was that I got a call for a second interview with the Minnesota  Twins! I interviewed last Monday and it went great! I won't know until the second week in December, so it  will be a little stressful, but I'm hoping for the best. Keep me in your thoughts! Thanks for reading! :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Meeting with the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, and Wild :)

Target Field
            Last Thursday (October 24th) I got the opportunity to visit with marketing and sales professionals from the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and Wild with my Sports Marketing class. This was probably one of the most valuable and important opportunities that I have experience. Dr. Stephen Castleberry, our professor, set the whole day up for us to really get an idea of what working in professional sports is like. He's been so helpful with me and has been my favorite professor at UMD. If you have the chance to take Sports Marketing or any class with him, I HIGHLY suggest you take it!

            It was an early morning for us, starting at 10 am at Target Field for a tour and panel. First, we got our tour of the stadium which was about an hour long. We got to see the Champions Club, Visitor's Clubhouse, the Budweiser Deck, and many other behind-the-scenes areas of the stadium. Being a huge Twins fan, this was the highlight of my day. Target Field is an amazing example of an environmentally conscious stadium. The stadium saves millions of gallons a year of water that is drained, purified, and recycled all within the stadium. It's won many awards for its sustainability efforts. Architecturally, it is absolutely gorgeous. Every time I get a chance to be in the building, I am constantly reminded of how much I want to work there.

          After the tour, we got to speak with some of the people that work for the Minnesota Twins in marketing and sales. The panel consisted of Will Delaney (Ad Manager), Chris Iles (Corporate Communication), Keith Beise (Social Media), and Rick Olson (Tour Leader). They each described what they do. They are also preparing a lot for the All Star Game, coming to Target Field in July 2014. They talked a lot about how they plan on expanding their social media to other platforms, and how much revenue that their social media creates. I also won a game used ball for asking the best question. :)

          After our visit with the Twins, we rushed to the Metrodome to begin visiting with the Minnesota Vikings. We got a tour of Mall of America Field, and we were told that we would be one of the last groups to tour it, since it will be torn down after this season. It's really amazing to look at the stadium from a marketing point of you. I noticed how outdated and old the stadium was. It is hard to market not only an old stadium, but a team that can't figure out their QB situation and can't win. They did very well with what they could do, and obviously, people are still going to the games no matter how bad the Vikings have been lately.

Mall of America Field
         We had a very long discussion with their panel of professionals which included Brett Tabor (Marketing Coordinator), Travis Hamre (Group Sales), CJ Rugh (Events), and Dannon Hulskotter (Marketing Director). These guys were probably the most knowledgeable. They had so many experiences to share, and it was fascinating to hear how they operate day to day. They talked a lot about how they plan on adjusting to not only the new Vikings stadium, but TCF Stadium, which will be their home for 2 years while the stadium is being built. They also discussed how hard it is to market a losing team.

          Our final visit was with the Minnesota Wild. By the time we got there, we were all starving and pretty exhausted. We all actively listened to the marketing professionals for the Wild, though, who were Will Schultz (Ticket Sales), Natalie Kaess (Fan Services), and Mark Fasching (Suite Sales). We had a brief tour of the stadium and got to go down to the ice level. It was right before their game, though, so we didn't get to see much more than that. During the tour, I saw a player just sitting in the stands taping his hockey stick, so that was pretty exciting for me! We also learned a lot about the suites, which work very differently compared to the Dome and Target Field. They had suites that could be purchased for quarter, half, and full seasons. There were also suites that could be purchased for single games only. On top of all of that, the Xcel has "Loges," which are 4 person suites. These included 4 tickets to every event that occurs at the Xcel, including concerts, tournaments and Wild games. They also had all you can eat food and drink. Even though it was pretty expensive, I thought it was a great idea. It's clear that it has been successful, due to the waiting list they have to purchase a suite.

Wild warming up vs. Carolina
               Natalie and Will were our panel for the Wild. Nicole's job was the most interesting part of me. She described her job as being the "day maker." She was the one that called people to skate with the flag at the beginning of the game and helped get people together for all of the fun stuff at the games. This was really interesting for me, because that's what I love doing when I intern. They also talked a lot about how they dealt with the lockout last year and years prior. They talked about how for a week they were at the Xcel around the clock once they found out a deal had been signed and there would be hockey. It was extremely interesting to me how they handled all of that. Will talked a lot about his ticket sale background, explaining that that is entry level in most marketing areas of sports. He also gave us the tour of the stadium and introduced us to Mark, who showed us how the suites work for the Wild.

               This trip was so much fun. I got to meet people in the field I want to go into and it was extremely interesting. The basic networking of the trip was so valuable to me, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with these professionals when I graduate from UMD. My next post is going to be about going to the Minnesota Wild Networking Event, and I will be networking with professionals that actually run the Wild, Timberwolves and Vikings organizations. I am so excited! Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why Am I Making A Blog? Well....

Hey whoever is reading this! I am Alexa Fletcher. You probably already know me if you are reading this but I'm just gonna go into some basics about who I am, why I'm making this blog, and what I hope to accomplish with it! I also plan on talking a little bit about my interviews with different organizations, and my experiences looking for positions! :)

I am from Brainerd, MN, which is a small town in central Minnesota, about an hour north of St. Cloud. I was born in St. Paul, MN and moved around a couple of times before my family decided to settle in Brainerd! My family consists of my parents, my 19 year old sister (also studying at the University of Minnesota Duluth), my 17 year old brother, and my 2 bull mastiffs, who I consider my children. I am 21 years old, and currently I am a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, going for my BBA in Marketing and Graphic Design. I am an avid Bulldog Hockey fan, as well as a baseball super fan! I love my Twins, Dodgers, and Giants! :)

So why am I making a blog? Most people aren't going to read this but I thought it might be a good idea for me to do! My main career focus is to become a part of the marketing department for a Major League Baseball team, and be involved in game day operations. I am very big into researching anything I go into, and it has been really hard for me to find anything about peoples' internships or career fair experiences. I want to be able to help out people find their careers and give them ideas as to what to do. I love sharing my experiences!

Most of my posts probably won't be very long, but they'll be informative as to what to do, who to talk to, and what questions to ask. I'm not looking to change the world, or write anything extremely profound. I just want to be able to help people. I want to ESPECIALLY help young women who want to get into the sports business. Yes, it's 2013, but the sports management field is still prettttty male dominated. I want to inspire young women to find their passion. There is nothing I love more than seeing someone who has their blinders on and is going after what they want. Passionate people are the ones who make a difference. :)

Now, I'm going to talk about my first internship fair experience! I attended the Minnesota Twins Intern and Career Fair on September 26th. It was at Target Field in the Delta 360 Legends Club, and it was a lot of fun. The Minnesota Twins had a few of their employees there, as well as the Minnesota Vikings, Timberwolves, and Lynx. The Northwoods League had many teams presents, along with a junior league hockey team, and a few event companies. We had about 3 hours to chat with whoever we were interested in. I felt it was extremely beneficial, not only to get the experience of going to a job fair, but getting to meet actual professionals and network. I even had a couple email me after the fair, telling me how impressed they were with me! It was a wonderful experience, and anyone who wants some of the flyers I got from there is welcome to ask me for a copy!

I spoke with almost all of the teams present at the fair. Some people I had lengthy conversations with, discussing sports, possible jobs, and future goals. A lot of it was just general networking.

Soon after the intern fair, I applied for about 5 positions within the internship program for the Minnesota Twins. I got a call two days later requesting a phone interview! If you know me, even remotely, you'll know that I was over the moon and about in tears. I finally got an interview for a position that I have been working towards since I was a freshman in high school. It finally felt like my countless hours of hard work was getting somewhere. 

I had my interview on Monday, October 7th, and it went even better that I imagined. I was asked a lot about my experiences in sports marketing, which thankfully, I have had two internships directly related to that. They let me know that I wouldn't know until around November if I would get called for a second interview, which unfortunately is kind of far out there. I am still excited though, at the opportunity to work with such a wonderful organization. 

As I have mentioned, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have! I'm always excited to answer them. :)