How SPDA is Helping Drive Student Success in Sports at Ohio State

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The program creates vital networking and experiential learning opportunities.

SPDA brings student leaders together at Ohio State (image via recsports.osu.edu)

Aspiring professionals in the sports industry are constantly searching for new ways to stand out among the competition. The job market is as competitive as ever, requiring students to go above and beyond in an effort to be noticed.

But how do you do this at the college level when you are tied down by school work and a hectic schedule?

The Student Professional Development Association at Ohio State is just one example of how universities and programs can create an organization that empowers students and provides them with opportunities while in school.

A program that began within the Department of Recreational Sports, SPDA provides students the necessary resources for advancement toward their careers. SPDA strives to help students grow and become leaders in the industry through networking opportunities. The idea is expose to students to professional environments via conferences and interactions with experts in their respective fields.

Andrew Jordan, Advisor for SPDA, summed up the impact of the program saying, “One outcome of student employment with the Department of Recreational Sports is to develop a student’s leadership capacity after their time with us. SPDA is an extension of this outcome by providing access to opportunities outside of OSU.”

One way SPDA does this is through trips to various athletic facilities around the country. The growing organization has taken trips to Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York City, and Washington D.C., just to name a few. Participants are rewarded with the opportunity to visit facilities in the sports industry and familiarize themselves with daily operations in the industry. This is a key educational component to professional development.

The Pittsburgh trip allowed students to tour the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus on the recreational facility and the basketball arena. Additionally, the group went to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and was able to visit Heinz Field the following day.

These opportunities are made possible by extensive fundraising that members of SPDA are required to partake in. Make no mistake, the students involved take full advantage of this opportunity to fundraise and commit to providing a better experience for everyone. Raising money for SPDA trips often involves running concessions outside Ohio State Football games and various other sports events, a fun way for students to buy into the process.

Students with SPDA take in Fenway Park in Boston from atop the Green Monster (image via recsports.osu.edu)

Road trips are not the only reason to fundraise. Students who wish to go to conferences such as the Ohio Recreational Sports Association conference (ORSA) or the NIRSA Annual Conference can benefit as well. Simply volunteering to work concessions and various fundraising events can help cover registration fees at these conferences. ORSA and NIRSA give students the opportunity to network with professionals in the field along with undergraduate and graduate students. These events connect aspiring professionals with various members of the sports industry.

Aside from these major events, the Student Professional Development Association at Ohio State facilitates professional development through resume building workshops and guest speakers. These are unique opportunities not otherwise afforded to students who want to become leaders in the field. SPDA helps supplement internships and campus employment experiences.

Leadership development and student engagement in professional settings is critical at the college level. SPDA serves as a platform for Ohio State students to get ahead of the game. “SPDA has been a leader in promoting a student led development program for their employees for years,” Jordan added. “Institutions across the country have looked to SPDA as a model for this type of development program.”

The organization integrates students and professionals to create a well-balanced environment, leading to a recipe for success in the sports industry.


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