1. You just received your Doctor of Education in Sport Management from the United States Sports Academy by successfully defending your dissertation entitled Sport Management Internships: Undergraduate Student and Practitioner Perceptions and Expectations. Can you tell us a little about your topic and why you chose it for your dissertation?
When I was in undergraduate school I had a fantastic internship working with the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball at their spring training facility. I saw how important an internship was to getting a job in the sports field. I’ve always been a big believer in internships and I’ve always pushed our students to pursue internships. With my research, I wanted to make sure the practitioners expectations of the internship lined up with what the student expected the internship to be. My thought process was that with both parties on the same page this would lead to the best possible internship.
2. How has the importance of internships, both in the Sport Management field and beyond, grown over the past several years?
I think internships are much more expected in our current business climate. It’s a great opportunity to break into whichever field you are trying to get into. Many employers look for a student coming out of school to have some real-world experience, and that’s where the internship comes in. Internships are the most common link amongst undergraduate sport management programs, but I’ve seen a noticeable increase in the number of different academic disciplines that now offer internships.
3. From a business point of view, how should college interns be regarded by employers, and what is the most effective way employers can utilize interns?
From a business point of view, interns should be looked at as entry-level employees and should be trained, treated and regarded in that way. You don’t want an intern to just do busy work, but you’re also not going to give them the work of a CEO, a happy medium must be found.
The use of an intern will vary depending on the company, but I do believe that more employers use an intern appropriately than do not.
4. How should a student approach an internship and what are the key elements they can do to succeed?
The first thing a student should do is to gather as much information about a prospective company as possible. Finding out internship criteria, researching the internship site supervisor, all of these things are vital to gaining an internship. Discussing opportunities with the professor in charge of the internship program at a student’s university will also go a long way in helping a student succeed.
5. You’ve had numerous students in your program earn well respected internships, can you tell us about a student you feel got the most out of his/her internship and why?
If I had to point to one student in particular, I would look most recently at Tim Farrell. Tim graduated in May and spent his final semester in Kansas City interning with the Chiefs, of the National Football League. It was a wonderful experience for him to be able to work with a professional sports team and to learn from individuals at that level. He was able to get a hands-on feel for the sport management field and was given some high level tasks for an intern, which only enhanced his experience.
Dr. Deron Grabel is the Academic Program Manager for Post University’s Sport Management Program. Grabel holds a Doctoral degree in Sport Management from the United States Sports Academy, a Master’s degree in Recreation Administration from Lehman College, and a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from Springfield College.