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College alumni open sport industry networking opportunities for students

In some cases, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The connections that students make along their collegiate path often open doors for career development. A recent weekend excursion to the New York and New Jersey area expanded networking opportunities for West Virginia University students, thanks to alumni involvement.

For many of the club members, this was their first road trip experience. Ryan Sandler, junior sport management student, recognized the importance of meeting college alumni. “I found this event to be very informative because it forced me to get out of my comfort zone. Not only did it teach me to become comfortable interacting with my peers, but the trip challenged me to have the courage to start a conversation with someone in a position of high power,” Sandler said.

College faculty and Sport Management Club members connected with professionals and WVU alumni in the sports industry, in late October. Drs. Floyd Jones and Justin Wartella, sport management faculty members, joined students as they explored various sport venues and corporate offices.

Overall, students say the time was a good investment. “I am most proud of the way West Virginia University was represented by alumni, students and faculty. From top to bottom, it was great to see everyone get involved and for our members to get a chance to learn from professionals who have been where we are as students and are now where we desire to be,” Adrian Perez, senior and president, Sport Management Club, said.

Chris Mann, B.S. (2002) sport management and current vice president of partnerships at Dignitas, a professional esports organization in Newark, NJ, shared valuable insights about the esports industry. Mann emphasized the variety of careers available in the sports industry, beyond the coveted collegiate and professional athletic sport management path.

Additionally, Mann spoke about the esports industry as a career, how to run a team and daily challenges he faces while carrying out everyday tasks. In addition to sport management students, WVU public relations and finance majors enrolled for the trip.

Following Mann’s presentation, the student group toured the Prudential Center, home to the New Jersey Devils. While visiting the venue, students experienced the Devils during mid-practice. The tour lasted for an hour, as members of the club got the chance to inspect the multi-purpose facility and see live hockey action.  

The next day, the group traveled to the 102nd floor at One World Observatory to visit with Legends representatives and connect with WVU alumni tied to the organization. Topics discussed included sales recruitment, career opportunities and personal job experiences. WVU alumni and Legends’ executives offered tips on how to make crucial industry contacts and obtain a successful career in sport.

“It was great being able to welcome the WVU Sport Management Club to New York City and to share advice and insights to help them start their careers in the sports and entertainment industry. Sports is such a competitive industry, so the importance of networking with their alumni is a valuable first step,” said Kristen Condo, B.S. (2006) and M.S. (2008), director, partnership development for Legends.

Founded in 2018, Legends is an experiential services agency with three core divisions operating worldwide: global planning, global sales and hospitality, offering clients and partners opportunities to elevate their brand and execute their vision. Legends’ partners include well-known brands and properties in sports and entertainment, including the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, University of Notre Dame, UFC, SoFi Stadium, Manchester City FC, among others.

CPASS alumni presenters included Kristen Condo, Legends, Global Partnerships; Matt Palka, OWO, Group Sales; Erik Roberts, Skyview, Group Sales; and Wellington Smith, Eze Castle Integration and Unity Legends.

The Sport Management Club encourages students to attend general meetings, held every Wednesday at 5 p.m. in CPASS room G08. 

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