SMA Conference gives students opportunities, words of wisdom

Sports management is a competitive field, and the CMU Sports Management Association is there to give students an upper hand.

Over the weekend, the SMA hosted a two-day conference to help sports management students network, learn more about the program and land an internship. The event boasted a career fair, several speakers from across the country and a number of opportunities for students to meet connections in the industry.

“A lot of people get interviews and contact information from the organizations we bring in," said Petoskey junior Austin Peters, a member of the SMA E-Board who served on the conference planning committee. "It’s a great way to get in contact with people. Local places give out a lot of field studies and internships.”

Starting in 2011, the conference was first put on as a response to other Michigan colleges that provided network opportunities for their sports management students. The first conference brought in 75 students and a number of speakers, and has grown substantially since.

“We’re given a lot of chances here," said sophomore Darius Taylor. "It’s a big competition, so we might as well get started ahead.”

Peters said this year’s event boasted more than 100 students from a number of campuses, all hoping to get their name out there in the sports management world. The event kicked off with a career fair in the Education Human Services Building.

“We had 15 or 16 organizations upstairs, including the Red Wings and the Pistons,” Peters said.

Students, with résumés in hand, attended the fair to talk to various sports organizations in the hopes of landing an internship.

“It’s a great event. I came in with a limited knowledge of internships and I’m learning a lot," said Kyle Schrauben, Michigan State University sophomore.

CMU alumna Kelly Carter, who was there representing the Battle Creek Bombers, was pleased with how the event went.

“We’ve got a bunch of résumés," Carter said. "The best way of networking is through people within the department, and I got my internship last year through this. It’s a great place for learning and networking, and now that they hold this event every year, it’s getting pretty big.”

Now working for the Detroit Red Wings as a ticket service executive, CMU alumna Liz Schneider was the fundraising chair of the SMA E-board and event coordinator in 2011, the first year of the conference.

“It’s cool to see it continue to grow and be successful,” Schneider said. “It creates a great networking opportunity. We get thousands of resumes all the time, and they don’t get noticed as much without that face-to-face connection. The SMA conference gives students the opportunity to develop a connection with us first hand, and every year it continues to grow.”

After the career fair, conference attendees had the opportunity to attend a number of speakers. Friday’s lineup included Dr. Scott Smith, a sports management professor here at CMU, Eric Cannon, who handles a good deal of the PGA Tour’s digital media and Deno Anagnost, who works for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They rounded out the evening with a networking dinner in Merrill Hall.

On Saturday, students were able to listen to “Voice of the Box” Matt Crevin, who has more than 20 years of experience in the sports industry.

Vice president of affiliate marketing for Disney and ESPN, Robyn Remick, rounded out the conference as the keynote speaker.

“It’s important for students to take advantage of these opportunities, especially when they’re right at your doorstep,” said professor Steve Adler, who helped SMA organize the event. “If you’re looking for a job in this industry, you must be there. We’ve had people that land internships and entry-level jobs directly from this conference. There are real, tangible benefits from coming here.”


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