Successful networking can be an essential component for entry into the sports field. Northwestern University's MSA program provides a range of networking opportunities that provide MSA students and alumni with a competitive advantage as they begin and look to advance in their careers.
- MSA faculty and staff have access to team executives, sports agents, corporate sports consultants and a broad range of other professionals in collegiate, professional and amateur athletics administration.
- The MSA student board offers networking events that give students inside access to Chicago-area sports operations and provide opportunities to meet with and learn from team management and executives. See below for recent events.
- Select MSA courses feature guest speakers from the sports industry who provide their insight and guidance.
- MSA alumni hold positions in many areas of sports. As Northwestern University alumni, MSA graduates become part of an alumni population known nationwide for excellence and achievement.
Bulls Game with Staff Panel
The Northwestern MSA Student Board hosted a successful night out with the Chicago Bulls! The evening kicked off with a panel of Bulls front office staff including representatives from Ticket Sales, Sponsorship, Finance, the Windy City Bulls, and Social Media. Each panelist talked about their experience and their journey to their current position with the Bulls, an overview of their day-to-day job and game responsibilities, and advice on breaking into the sports world. The panelists emphasized the importance of networking skills and looking outside the box for job opportunities not just with professional sports teams. For many, their experience at a prior organization along with their network helped land them a position with the Bulls.
This was a great opportunity for MSA students to learn from the Bulls' experience and also to gain an inside look at what different positions are responsible for during a game day. After meeting with the panel and a question and answer segment, students were able to speak to panelists on an individual basis.
After the panel, the students were able to walk around United Center and enjoy the Bulls game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
KemperLesnik Open Forum Discussion
Northwestern MSA students had the opportunity to have an open forum discussion with executives from KemperLesnik. KemperLesnik has had many Northwestern MSA students serve as interns in the past and currently have an MSA alumni as their Director of Event Operations.
The discussion began with an explanation of the events KemperLesnik manages which include the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, CBS Sports Classic, McDonald's High School All American Games and State Farm Chicago Legends college basketball doubleheader. The panelists then answered more direct questions in relation to their field. The panelists included were:
- Mark Starsiak: Director of Event Operations
- Gabe Izsak: Account Executive (Sponsorship and Fulfillment)
- Nelson Taylor: Manager, Marketing & Client Services
- Dan Mihalik: Senior Account Executive, Media Events and Operations
The panelists provided a brief background on their education, their past work experiences and how they got to their current position at KemperLesnik. The panelists placed high importance on taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You don't have to meet every qualification on a job description, but you do need to be confidant in your abilities, be willing to learn and be willing to take risks to further your career.
MSA Students Meet Chicago Fire COO, Atul Khosla
Northwestern MSA students had the opportunity to attend a Chicago Fire match and meet with the COO, Atul Khosla. MSA students spent the first part of the match cheering on the Fire in the stands. At half time, they moved to a suite to meet with Atul, where they were able to ask him questions about his career path and advice for entering the industry.
Atul started off working for GE in their Operations Management and Leadership Program. He then found himself in different roles at the company such as the Manager of Commercial Operations and Finance; however, he was quickly promoted to the Director position. He then decided to make a transition to the sports industry where he worked for Alli Sports, which is a division of NBC Sports. He started off as the VP of Business Development and Operations and then became the VP of Commercial Business and Operations. He was with Alli Sports for 6 years before becoming the COO of the Chicago Fire in 2011.
Atul's greatest piece of advice was to be authentic and to make yourself stand out in the industry. To do this, he suggested that students network with as many people as possible and gain first-hand experience in the industry.
Fall Networking Panel and Resume Review
After such a successful spring event, the Northwestern MSA Student Board hosted another Networking Panel and Resume Review this fall. The event started with the moderator facilitating the discussion then opening it up to the students to ask questions. Afterwards, the panelists took time to review everyone's resumes. We were lucky enough to have the following guests at the event:
- Doug Bakker: MSA Faculty, teaches Compliance in Sports and Intercollegiate Sports; Associate Athletic Director at DePaul University
- Bill Waters: MSA Faculty, teaches Sports Business; Vice President of Finance at the Chicago White Sox
- Brad Bauer: MSA Alum; Senior Account Executive, Corporate Partnerships at Windy City Bulls
- Matt Ryan: MSA Alum; Senior Manager of Development at the Big Ten Sports Properties
- Brice Clinton: MSA Alum; MSA Faculty, teaches Technology of Sport; Senior Sales Engineer at CSG International
All panelists offered great advice for our current students, prospective students and alumni who attended the event. They spoke about how their Northwestern education has impacted their careers, offered advice about informational interviews, and how to prepare for in person interviews. Panelists also emphasized the importance of gaining institutional knowledge once inside an organization. One particular question stood out about the upcoming trends and buzzwords in the sports industry. Answers ranged from clients wanting customized sponsorship activation to a discussion on changes to how fans are consuming sports. It was a valuable event and we hope to see more members of the MSA community at the spring 2017 event.
Big Ten Network Studio Tour & Panel
As a Big Ten school, the Northwestern Wildcats have their fair share of the spotlight on the Big Ten Network. The Northwestern MSA Student Board took advantage of the proximity of BTN's headquarters in downtown Chicago this summer with a tour of the network's studio and offices as well as an interactive panel of BTN employees. The tour focused on the ins and outs of the production of live college sports as well as original television programming that the network produces. The tour ended at the BTN set where all BTN pre-game/post-game and other shows are taped.
After the tour, a panel of BTN employees sat down with MSA students to discuss their experience and careers in television. The panel included:
- Quentin Carter: Executive Coordination Producer, Studio Production
- Erin Harvego: Vice President, Marketing
- Sue Maryott: Coordinating Producer, Remote Production
- Jim Reeder: Vice President, Sales
All panelists provided insights into their career paths that led them to their current positions with the Big Ten Network, as well as great advice on how to break into the sports industry. Students were able to ask the panelists questions as well, which led to a great discussion on the importance of networking within the industry. Multiple panelists emphasized that although the sports industry may seem very large, once you're in it tends to seem very small. By continuing to network and grow your network, you increase your chances of finding an opportunity to begin working in the sports world.
MSA Students Tour Big Ten Conference Offices
In the sports industry, any type of relationship you can form is a step in the right direction, said Jane Obringer, a student in Northwestern University School of Professional Studies Master of Arts in Sports Administration program. Recently, Jane and 15 other students from the program took a big step in the right direction when they attended a private tour of the Big Ten Conference headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois. Read more.
MSA Students Tour Soldier Field
MSA students got a behind-the-scenes look at operations at Soldier Field on a special tour led by Bryan Pett, director of stadium operations and Bob Laskowski, director of stadium experience for the Chicago Bears. This was not your typical stadium tour, said student Kevin Mroz. The tour focused on how Solider Field runs. It was great to hear from Chicago Bears employees and go to parts of the stadium that are usually off limits. Read more.
Chicago Fire Offers MSA Students More Than a Game
Northwestern's Master of Arts in Sports Administration Student Board arranged for a group of students to attend a Chicago Fire game against the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park in Bridgeview on October 3rd. But it was more than a chance to spend time with fellow students. The event included a behind-the-scenes tour and a Q & A session with Mike Ernst, the Fire's vice president of ticket sales. Read more.
MSA Students Meet with Chicago Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough and Executive Vice President Jay Blunk
The Chicago Blackhawks shootout win against the St. Louis Blues on March 13 already had the hometown crowd at the United Center roaring and for 20 students from Northwestern's Master of Arts in Sports Administration program, the ice hockey faceoff had an extra element of excitement. Before the game the students met with Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough and Executive Vice President Jay Blunk to gather insights about working in the world of sports.
Jed Hoyer Talks with Sports Administration Students
MSA students listened as Jed Hoyer provided first-hand industry insight and detailed his experiences and strategies as he rose from Boston Red Sox intern to general manager with the Padres and to his current role as general manager with the Chicago Cubs. "You are pretty fortunate to be involved in this kind of program." Hoyer said to the audience of current and prospective MSA students, "I wish I had had this in Boston when I was 25."