Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of an National Hockey League team? Thanks to the Ithaca College School of Business, I interned this past summer with the New York Islanders Hockey Club and learned the ins and outs of what happens off the ice. Officially I worked in corporate season ticket sales, but I ended up doing so much more.
My first day at the corporate offices inside the Nassau Coliseum was by far the most stressful for me. Four other interns and I met with our supervisor, were handed an avalanche of names and numbers of prospective ticket buyers to call, and were sent off to get the job done. Having never made a cold call before in my life, I was sweating bullets. I thought there was no way we would be able to get all these calls done. Cold calling is stressful, but it’s an important and necessary part of many business operations. There was no way around making the calls, so I gritted my teeth and went to work. Luckily we weren’t given a quota to make, but calling every number listed was an accomplishment in itself.
By the end of the day, we had done it! We had also made 10 separate sales, an amazing feat for interns. Of those sales, I had generated two. It was demanding, and it was my first experience in the sports business world where I absolutely needed to use teamwork to finish a task.
Office etiquette is important in any job, and my Organizational Behavior and Management class with Susan Rosenthal really prepared me for the inner workings of the office, specifically teaching me how to use the chain of command to get things done.
The summer off-season is a slower time of the year for the business office and therefore a great time to intern. It gives new sales representatives a little more time to learn the ropes. Soon I was in a routine, with each day starting with cold calls. I quickly overcame my nerves, and by the end of the first month I was a pro.
I also learned an important system in the professional sports industry called Archtics. This is a database of all the Islanders ticket holders and their accounts. It helps the sales reps stay organized, so they never lose track of their clients. Anyone who interns with a professional sports team’s sales department will probably learn that system as well.
The most significant event I took part in planning was the draft party for the NHL. More than 8,000 fans turned out to see the top picks from around the country. My job was to check in all the premium season ticket holders and escort some of the higher profile clients, which included CEOs, banking executives, and professional athletes, to the season ticket holders’ lounge. I also shadowed Steve Biesel, the most senior sales rep on the Islanders staff, which gave me the opportunity to interact with some of his clients. I learned some of the key aspects of how to effectively talk to prospective buyers.
Because my dream is to work for a professional sports organization, this internship was an amazing experience for me. It takes a lot of hard work to fill those arena seats and contribute to an exciting game-day atmosphere. Just as the hockey players rely on teamwork on the ice, we need it in the back office as well. I saw firsthand the way people within the Islanders organization were willing to help each other whenever necessary. I feel ready now to take on the business of the professional sports world. Game on!
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