On Monday, Colorado State University sport management grad student Mark Leadbetter walked into his first job interview in 10 years.
But as he waited for his group interview with the hiring team for the Colorado Rockies, the 35-year-old charter school teacher and athletic director said he felt prepared for any curve balls they might throw at him.
“The sport management program has really pointed me in the right direction, and the connections I’ve made through the professors here have been incredible,” Leadbetter said.
Interviews for the coveted jobs on the MLB baseball organization’s promotions team were just part of the first job fair hosted by the Colorado Rockies Sport Management Institute at Colorado State University. The institute — an expansion of the College of Liberal Arts’ sport management minor and master’s programs — allows students to learn directly from industry professionals within the Rockies organization. The fair was an exclusive event for its students.
Moving industries forward
For Assistant Professor Andrew Goldsmith, the fair was a chance to see his students utilize what they’ve learned, as well as showcase some of the program’s more unique aspects in real-world applications.
“Because we’re in the College of Liberal Arts, one of the things we focus on is supporting these students to grow not only in their technical skills but as critical thinkers, as good citizens, as people that we want to represent — not just our organization — but now the Rockies organization, as well,” Goldsmith said.
The sport management program’s motto is “moving industries of sport forward,” and it truly is at the heart of everything that they do, added Justin Garner, an instructor and advisor for the program.
“We’re training leaders to move industries forward — whether that’s through communications, marketing, whether that’s in professional sports, college sports or youth sports,” Garner said. “We’re helping our students to be change agents, taking what they’re learning here and putting it into practice to make a difference and become a leader in the industry.”
Networking, networking, networking
Seniors Kaitlyn Trope and Tenny Kim worked with the Rockies’ promo crew last year but said having an opportunity to talk one-on-one with professionals from such a variety of departments within the organization felt like an important stepping stone.
“This was a great chance to put a face to the departments, as well as figure out what they each have to offer,” said Trope, who’s majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in sport management.
For Kim, a journalism major and sport management minor, the fair was a chance to get his foot in the door with the Rockies video team, RockiesVision.
“Everyone tells you it’s all about networking, networking, networking, and I think these opportunities highlight why,” Kim said. “Because you see these names on websites, on resumes and on job opportunities and you don’t know who these people are. After today I know who they are, and they know who I am. I now feel more confident in applying for those jobs.”
As a graduate of CSU’s sport management program herself, Katie George (B.S., ’20) said one of her favorite questions from students at the event was how she got her start.
“I think that’s a really cool question for me because I started on the promo crew, which is a job that we’re hiring for right now,” said George, who now works as assistant of client services in the Rockies’ business development department.
Not your typical ‘job fair’
The event was a great opportunity for the Rockies to directly tap into the talent pool in the sport management program, said Colette Few, a recruiter in the Rockies’ Business Operations Talent Acquisitions/Human Resources Department. It’s also a unique opportunity for students.
At a typical job fair, one or two department managers would attend, Few said.
“Today we have 20 different managers here who actually hire employees,” she said. “Here students actually get to come in and meet with a variety of different departments, find out what they’re doing and what they’re looking for, where they’re growing and how they’re growing, as well as get that personal connection.”
While many of the jobs focused on in-game entertainment roles with the organizations’ promo crew, the career fair also featured some unexpected opportunities such as ticketing, partnerships and turf management, which is offered as an elective in the sport management program.
“There are so many different potential careers and career paths for these students to choose from here,” Goldsmith said. “I think when you just hear ‘sport management,’ you just think, ‘Oh, they’re sports fans.’ But really, it’s about all the things that it takes to put on these events — whether that’s a career fair like this or a Rockies game attended by more than 50,000 people. That’s the advantage our students are getting as a part of this program.”