You Get Out What You Put In

This is posted as part of our Summer Intern Blog Series. Be sure to come back each week as interns from around the country share their summer experiences with us!

By: Kelly Cartner, @kellyfavre4

A beautiful start to Copa Centenario. Photo courtesy: Kelly Cartner

Hello from Stockton, California! It is my privilege to be writing about some of my internship experiences this summer, as they will all be quite diverse. To start off, my name is Kelly and I am a graduate student at University of the Pacific, studying sport management and am currently in my last summer before I graduate…again. As I mentioned, my summer will be filled with different experiences from volunteering at Copa America, interning in the athletic department here on campus and being the media relations coordinator for a professional tennis event. For this post, I want to start with my Copa American Centenario volunteer experience, since it comes with a great lesson.

I am lucky enough to only live 75 miles from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, where the opening match of the tournament was held and I knew this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I applied and was accepted to be a volunteer in a matter of days and before I knew it, I was off to my first shift! I was chosen to be a part of the hospitality team, which ranges from being a ‘wayfinder’ and helping people where to go to helping out in the suites to hanging around in the fan plaza to assist with setup and tear down. My task on Friday: standing in the 100-degree heat helping fans find the way to their seats.

You may think, ‘Why in the world would you sign up for that?’ I understand why you would say this, but here is what I have learned through my past internships and experiences: you get out what you put in. That’s the secret and the most important ingredient in the recipe for success when it comes to internships. It sounds simple enough, but you would be shocked at how many young professionals often forget this vital slice of knowledge. Internships are not always glorious and they aren’t intended to be, they are resume builders and a great new resource to build your network. How many times have you heard from others about how important it is to network with anyone and everyone because it often comes down to, not, what you know, but who you know.

So as I stood in the heat helping others find their way, I kept a smile on the entire time while I had some great conversations with fans from Columbia, Brazil and even Chile. I took so many pictures of fans in front of the stadium and it was extremely heart warming to see how excited they were to cheer on their favorite team. After the three-and-a-half-hour shift, my team leader thanked me for volunteering and understood that, although I didn’t have the most glorious job, that I kept a positive attitude and that is all they ask. But my shift wasn’t completely over and I was thrilled at what was next.

Kelly's view from the suite is pretty sweet. Photo courtesy: Kelly Cartner

Part two of my shift included assisting in the midfield level suite where the performers, retired players and CONCACAF executives were hanging out. I was to help take pictures of people with the trophy, while also making sure the trophies were not being touched. As you can see from the picture, I also had a nice view of the entire game.

Afterward, it was late and while waiting for traffic to clear before leaving the stadium, three of the tournament operations coordinators sat down with me to write their reports and I was able to meet and talk with them about their careers and how they ended up in the sport management field. I also was able to tell them about myself and my dreams of working in the business of sports. This opportunity was paramount! How many people get to sit and talk with the individuals coordinating an international sporting event? I was getting out what I was putting in.

As a day that started with holding a sign and standing in the heat to sitting down and talking with tournament coordinators, I was building my network and turning this experience into whatever I wanted it to be. I turned the experience into a few lines on my resume, a tremendous conversation starter, collected a few business cards and took some breathtaking pictures. It is going to be a great time at this tournament because I want it to be. I am gaining an amazing experience because I am putting in an amazing and positive attitude.