Isenberg Students Excel in Summer Work Challenges
October 10, 2012
In a resounding vote of confidence for Isenberg and its students, the Philadelphia-based sports-entertainment giant Comcast-Spectacor created 12 summer internships for the school's Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management. The interns worked at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in sales, marketing, and operations--principally on behalf of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers. Comcast-Spectacor owns the Flyers outright; it provides services including marketing, food, and operations for the Sixers.
One Isenberg intern, Nick DeChristopher '13, focused on market analytics for sports sponsorships with Comcast-Spectacor's Front Row Marketing subsidiary. A native Philadelphian, DeChristopher had previously interned with the Flyers, the Sixers, and-last spring-the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst (a Comcast-Spectacor venue).
A second intern, M.S. candidate, Dana Reynolds '13 spent the summer honing marketing research and promotional skills. "It was all very hands on," remarks Reynolds, who also received a generous scholarship from the company. "A major focus has been researching and evaluating marketing practices by other NHL teams," she continues. "That includes practices involving social media, training camps, and fan activities. I also worked with demographic data and helped create and promote a contest on Facebook. In the Flyers organization, it was expected that I be creative and share my ideas. It's an open-door culture. I met on-one-one with the CFO. During my internship, I truly felt like a member of the organization.
"McCormack students are talented, avid learners and extremely adaptable," notes Comcast-Spectacor's president and chief operating officer, Peter Luukko, BS '84, who heads up an extensive McCormack alumni network at the company. In October, Comcast-Spectacor, for the second year running, will be the principal sponsor of the department's annual Sport Management Career Fair. Last year, the event, which is organized and run by the student group Association of the Diversity of Sport (ADS), attracted over 300 students 36 sport business organizations to Isenberg and UMass. "It's a great investment for us to support a program that offers an industry-focused curriculum with lots of applied learning," emphasizes Luukko.
Colleen Cauley, a second-year Isenberg MBA candidate, spent her summer at the Westborough headquarters of BJ Wholesale Club, learning the nuances of its computerized inventory-distribution information system. That system is extensive: BJ's operates more than 190 clubs in 15 states along the East Coast and in Ohio. It is New England's largest and the nation's third-largest membership warehouse club.
BJ's extensive data base covers food [frozen, fresh, and canned], apparel, housewares, office equipment, and small appliances. "I was able to track where each item was at any point in the distribution network," explains the Isenberg student. Cauley gained fluency with its replenishment system, learning to forecast demand for different goods-demand that varied by store, region, seasonality, and other variables. That gave her an overview of varying consumption patterns in different regions. In Greater New York City and South Florida, demand, she notes, was much higher for Spanish ethnic brands like Goya. Demand for paper products, on the other hand, was uniform across regions.
BJ's sophisticated system was a world apart from Cauley's initial experience with logistics as a U.S. Marine captain. In 2003, as a logistics officer, she coordinated deployment of 200 troops and supplies in support of a fighting force of 2000 in its itinerary from California to Kuwait to Baghdad. After the service and before joining Isenberg, Cauley was an administrative specialist with the U.S. Census, and a project manager with the Bose Corporation and Quality Stone Veneer (a supplier of stone building products).
Cauley obtained her internship through Isenberg's Chase Career Center. Last spring, Mark Yusikones, '11 MBA, Assistant Vice President of Inventory Control with BJ's and a recent graduate of Isenberg's blended MBA program (combining online and in-class education), presented the opportunity to Chase. "For me," she says, "that opportunity became a fantastic learning experience in a supportive, team-oriented culture."
"If you can coordinate a wedding, you can coordinate anything," remarks Colleen Farragher, a senior in Isenberg's Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM). Farragher spent last summer at the upscale Seaport Hotel in Boston as a wedding administrative assistant both to its Director of Sales and to its four Wedding Sales Managers. In her role, Farragher handled office support functions like merging contracts, securing payments from clients, and preparing company-wide resume sheets outlining the weekend's wedding events. Equally valuable, she spent her weekends shadowing the hotel's wedding planners, learning the many-stranded ropes of wedding event management.
Weddings at Seaport Hotel, notes Farragher, typically cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and attract from 100 to more than 300 guests. "With numbers like those and the hotel's commitment to perfectionism, there was virtually no room for error," recalls the Isenberg honor student. "That included coordinating everything from catering, music, seating, lighting, security, and cocktail hour." In addition, Farragher learned the value of agility in responding to the unexpected, like last-minute adjustments in refreshments and seating.
The Seaport Hotel's VP of Sales, Marianna Accomando, recruited Farragher to the non-internship position when it became available due to a maternity leave. As a sophomore, Farragher had contacted Accomando in conjunction with an HTM course, Leadership & Networking (taught by Isenberg graduate and entrepreneur Bob Lowry '98). "I kept in touch with Marianna, which certainly paid off for me," observes Farragher, whose previous hospitality experience includes positions with The Colonnade Hotel in Boston, the Red Lion Inn in Scituate, and the French Meadow Cafe at UMass Amherst. "Those hands-on experiences complemented my HTM courses," she emphasizes. "In my major, you are expected to learn the hospitality business both in the classroom and inside the profession itself."